HAIRSPRAY is a lot of fun, certainly a lot more fun than any recent musicals. Its key to success is that it does not take itself too seriously, that is, until near the end when it tries to make a statement about segregation (one that is too easy to make 40 years later). Yes, I know that was in the original, but it could have been handled better. The songs are all great... except the civil rights march to a gospel ballad. It's a good song, but it sucks all the energy out of the movie.
The casting is excellent, with great performances by Travolta, Walken, Queen Latifah, and Jerry Stiller (who was in the original!). Newcomer Nikki Blonsky is outstanding. Even Amanda Bynes is good as the sidekick.
The film also flies by at 107 minutes, and unlike many other recent films, does not overstay its welcome.