Hairspray Movie Review

Some 34 years after the Supreme Court ended segregation, John Waters made Hairspray, probably his most wholesome film ever (it's rated PG), to relive his Baltimore youth among the regulars of his local American Bandstand-esque dance show. Hairspray's The Corny Collins Show was indeed based on a real Baltimore show called The Buddy Deane Show, and Waters' skewering of the young Elvises and their high-hair girls is dead-on.

Set in 1963, Baltimore was still fighting integration by refusing to let black youths participate in shows like these. The minority finds an unlikely champion, though, in Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake) an enormous girl who only wants to dance! As the pretty kids push against the rising popularity of the fat girl, a convenient analogue to racial discrimination develops.

Newly released as a double-disc DVD with Pecker, Waters and Lake take us through some of Hairspray's more memorable moments. Namely, I had no idea that the film was the debut of one Colleen Fitzpatrick, now better known as Vitamin C. I also didn't recall how much fun this movie was, what with the histrionics of the "dance council," the meddling parents, and the ever-higher hairdos.

It's not exactly Malcolm X, but Waters has never really made a stronger political statement since this film. Check it out.


Comments

Hairspray Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG, 1988

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