Hairspray (1988) Poster

(1988)

User Reviews

Add a Review
61 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
Delicious!
jilabel5 August 2003
As a HUGE fan of John Waters films, I have nothing but praise for this film. So fun, so campy, so enjoyable ( and you know...there IS a real plot inside the film. It's not just music and hair! ) The characters are at once silly and loveable, esp. Divine as Edna Turnblatt. And who can't love Ricki Lake as the voluptous teen sensation, Tracy Turnblatt!?! It's such a great movie. The one liners alone make me howl, as well as the great 60's look they were able to COAT the film with ( like hairspray? ) The clothes, the furniture, the makeup, EVERYTHING. Stellar pseudo B-movie casting ( Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono ). It's a favorite!!!
34 out of 39 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
See This Movie!
lisado31 January 2000
I saw it when it first came out, I've seen it several times since, and my last viewing was just a few weeks ago. It never seems flat or old.

It takes a look at an issue that doesn't necessarily seem to be a goldmine of laughs (racial difficulties in the early '60s) and turns it into just that without robbing it of any dignity or sense of importance. John Waters seems to have pulled out all the stops to insure this outcome, and it really paid off.

The "pleasingly plump" pre-talk show Ricki Lake turns in a great performance in a role that's an inspiration to "chunky" girls everywhere.

As always, Waters picks cameo and supporting actors that are dead-on perfect. His own turn as a psychologist is an absolute scream! Brimming with hysterical lines and set-ups, this is a comedy you need to see, if you haven't already.
29 out of 36 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Hairspray is the best!
jamieblondie18 September 2001
This has to be without a doubt my favourite movie. There are probably better but none that I have enjoyed as much. Its perfectly cast and well written. Ricki Lake, Divine, Vitamin C and of course Debbie Harry all shine. It deals with such a sensitive issue thats still relevant today (prejudice) in an easily digestable and engaging way. I love the dances and the whole feel of this movie. Its one you love or hate and I definatly love it! 10/10
18 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Free Tracy Turnblad
bkoganbing24 November 2008
Hairspray both this version and the new 2007 one are a pair of great satirical films about teenage mores in the early Sixties of the Civil Rights Era. Sometimes our heroes and heroines for civil rights and human decency can be found where you least expect.

Such a person is Tracy Turnblad played by later television host Rikki Lake who's a full figured gal in every sense of the word. Her biggest desire growing up in Baltimore of the Early Sixties is to get on the local teen hop show hosted by Corny Collins. The regulars who dance there have a celebrity status, but something a fat girl dare not hope to dream.

Tracy doesn't hope, she lives the dream and actually gets picked to dance and be a regular to the distress of plastic teen princess Colleen Fitzpatrick. But it's a cause for celebration for Tracy's parents played by Divine and Jerry Stiller and her best friend Leslie Ann Powers.

All this is against the background of the civil rights era and Baltimore had its problems also. The Corny Collins show is segregated with a prescribed Negro Day once a month. That seems as bogus to Tracy as baseball being segregated not too long ago and she joins the fight to integrate the show. She's even convinced her teen dream new boyfriend Michael St. Gerard to join in as well.

A subplot is Powers finding love herself in the person of Clayton Prince who is black and that's upsetting to a lot of people, not the least is Powers's mother. It would be within that same decade that the Supreme Court did away with miscegenation laws, so these kids are running some real risks.

Hairspray is a very funny film with a very serious message about live and live. In fact that's the main problem with the world today right now, certain people feeling they've got the right through religion or secular philosophy or plain out and out wealth who just feel they've the right to dictate the lives the rest of us are supposed to lead in conforming to how they see the world.

In the remake of Hairspray, Queen Latifah who plays Ruth Brown's role of Motormouth Mabel says to the characters playing the Powers and Prince roles that as a racially mixed couple that those young people should be prepared for a whole lot of stupid in the world to deal with. One cast member of this version of Hairspray had occasion to deal with a whole lot of stupid back in 1994.

In the cast he's listed as Keith Douglas, lead singer of the Lafayettes DooWop group, but he was Keith Douglas Pruitt, a talented musician, actor, and composer. He and his partner were attacked by a trio of suburban rednecks who were dismayed at seeing two members of the same sex holding hands on Waverly Place. Keith sustained a fractured skull and a hearing loss for a while looked to permanently impair his career in music.

It was in my working days with New York State Crime Victims Board that I met Keith Pruitt. I did the claims for both he and his partner, giving them what my agency could provide for both of them. He did go back to work eventually to the applause of his friends and admirers of his work.

Keith Pruitt died only a week ago at the age of 47. He left a legacy in art, but he also left a legacy in life as a genuine hero. One who certainly never started out to be one, but things are thrust upon us in life sometimes. He stood up to the homophobic bigots and bashers with dignity and pride. I'm really proud I knew him and was part of his story in a small way.

And so this review of Hairspray is dedicated to Keith Pruitt, someone we can all emulate in life.
12 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Baltimore teens dance and battle segregation in the '60s
blanche-24 November 2006
Ricki Lake plays Tracy Turnblad, a short, chubby teen with big hair who loves to dance in "Hairspray," a 1988 John Waters film starring Divine, Deborah Harry, Sonny Bono, Ruth Brown, Jerry Stiller, and Mink Stole. "Hairspray" has now been immortalized on Broadway as an enormous, energetic, fabulously entertaining musical which kept the conceit of a man playing Tracy's mother, again with great success.

"Hairspray" is highly exaggerated in parts, which makes it extra funny, and Waters captures '60s Baltimore beautifully. Corny Collins, who is the Baltimore Dick Clark, would like nothing better than to integrate his television show, but blacks are only permitted to dance one night a week. The van Tussles are for segregation - that would be Sonny Bono, running for office, his wife Harry (on stage the former Miss Baltimore Crabs, in the film Miss Soft Crab). Harry's hairstyles are fantastic - HUGE - her last hairdo is in the form of an enormous loving cup.

When Tracy's friend Penny takes up with the son of an outspoken black woman, Motormouth Mabel (Ruth Brown), her hysterical mother has her kidnapped and put in the hands of a psychiatrist (Divine as a man) who tries to torture her to stop liking black men. It's so outrageous it's funny, and that's where Waters shows his talent. When Tracy gets a contract modeling for a plus-sized woman's shop, the owner's live ad on Corny's show begins, "Tubby, tubby, 2 x 4, can't get through the kitchen door." It's this madcap treatment that keeps any of this from being remotely offensive.

All the performances are delightful, and there's a nice turn by Pia Zadora as a black-haired beatnik chick.

"Hairspray" has a lot of warmth that emanates from Tracy and the Turnblad family, and the mood stays upbeat throughout the entire film as the characters dance through life, Tracy with an overlay of blonde hair over her dark flip. Great music, great fun. "Hairspray" in any version is wonderful.
14 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
I'm an integrationist. We shall overcome someday.
lastliberal23 February 2008
It is hard to believe that we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of this film this week. It is even harder to believe that just one week after it opened Divine left the world's stage forever.

But, the star of the show was Ricki Lake in her first year as a film actress. She camped up John Water's script and delivered an enjoyable musical movie with a message that is just as important today as it was 20 years ago.

It was really interesting seeing people like Sonny Bono, Blondie, Jerry Stiller, Pia Zadora, and, of course, writer/director John Waters himself.

A goofy satire that is just as good today as it was then.
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Nostalgia gone askew
moonspinner5510 October 2001
John Waters reveals a somewhat more sentimental side with "Hairspray", a movie several people have told me they absolutely hated. I wondered what it was about Waters' style as a filmmaker that could provoke such anger? I think it's his affection for '60s movie-clichés transposed through nostalgia and Waters' own gross-out sensibilities (and his particular brand of humor, which can be quite wicked). I didn't much care for the film the first time I saw it, but I gave it a second chance and it grew on me. The reckless amateurishness is off-putting at first, but you have to meet "Hairspray" halfway. There is much to enjoy here, not the least of which is Divine as Ricki Lake's mom (and also as a bigoted network bigwig); wheeling and dealing after her daughter finds TV fame, Divine becomes a coiffed society queen, twisting away in front of the television and tossing off jaded quips like, "It's the times...they're a-changin'." The performances are all happily hammy, colorful and amusing, and the lightweight story comfortably shoehorns-in relevant political issues to counterbalance the slapstick. Ricki Lake is very appealing in her debut; also hilarious, Pia Zadora as a beatnik and Debbie Harry as the mother of Lake's main rival ("1-2-cha-cha-CHA, 1-2-cha-cha-CHA!"). It's not a seamless, polished picture, but it does have heart and charm and this sold me--but on the second time around. *** from ****
13 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
This "is" your Grandma's "Hairspray".....
mark.waltz1 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
And she's busy doing "The Madison!" The Broadway musical and film version of that long-running show have overshadowed this non-PC John Waters movie that brought him into the mainstream after years of underground movies such as "Female Trouble" and "Pink Flamingos". It also defused the impact of the original film, made not to please the general public, but make an important statement through comedy and music about racism, segregation and more subtly, bullying. It also introduced Rikki Lake to audiences as teenager Tracy Turnblad, a "Hair Hopper" who danced like Gene Kelly and had a lovable, spunky personality that attracted the handsome hero (Link Larkin). It didn't matter that she was chunky-pretty much everybody liked her with the exception "A" group leader Amber Von Tussle, whose snobbish parents (Sonny Bono and Deborah Harry) owned the local amusement park. When Tracy gets chosen for the teenage council of a local dance show ("The Corny Collins Show"), Amber is furious, and vows revenge, especially when Tracy wins Link's heart. It all comes together at a showdown where the two opposites compete for Queen of the Auto Show. In the meantime, Tracy's best friend, geeky Penny Pingleton, wins the heart of Seaweed, the teenage son of black music store owner and local TV hostess Motor Mouth Mabel (Ruth Brown) who vows to make the Corny Collins Show interracial.

The top-billed Divine steals the show as Tracy's out-of-touch mother Edna whom Tracy brings into the 60's by giving her a beehive and changing her frumpy house frau dresses into more stylish couture. From the moment Divine snarls, "Keep that racket down, I'm trying to iron in here!", you know you're in camp heaven. Add on Jerry Stiller as her easy going as pie husband, Wilbur (who owns a local novelty shop), Mink Stole (as Corny Collins' assistant) and "Guiding Light" veteran Shawn Thompson as Corny, and you've got the perfect mix of eccentrics and bigots for what many people rank as John Waters' finest film. While not as racy as previous John Waters films, there are moments of non-PC humour that rank up there with Waters' funnest tasteless moments. The title song that opens the film sets the stage for everything to follow. It's a shame it wasn't kept in the Broadway version that sanitized the humour. The major difference between the two film versions was the defusing of the character of Edna; Divine's matron was obviously a volcano ready to explode, while Harvey Fierstein played the part as a butterfly with a sting. By the time John Travolta got to it, all spark was gone, and Edna seemed like a shell of her former self. As for the original version, everybody is letter perfect. Michael St. Gerard delightfully makes what could have been a pompous conceited character extremely likable, while Colleen Fitzpatrick is everybody's teenage nightmare as Amber. Clayton Prince is charming as Seaweed, and Leslie Ann Powers exudes innocence as Penny. As her frantic mother, Jo Ann Havrilla is extremely funny. "Get away from me, you voodoo woman!", she screams at Ruth Brown ("Ooh Papa Tooney, We Got a Looney!), who is simply delightful as she brings black and white teens together as if a Den Mother for "Checkerboard Chicks". Pia Zadora and Ric Ocasak offer amusing cameos as a pair of beatniks. The ending is delightful, although the plight of the Von Tussles is somewhat off-putting.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
THIS is a John Waters film?!?!?!?!?!
MartinHafer30 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Wow, I was sure surprised by this film! If you've seen any of John Waters' earlier films, then this movie is a major shock because in so many ways this movie seems very,....normal and even uplifting!! This, coming from the same director was delighted in nauseating his audiences or shocking their sensibilities!! HAIRSPRAY, despite being funny and unusual in many ways, is actually a very family-friendly and endearing film! These are certainly NOT the sort of things I thought I'd say about a Waters film. I like his offensive and mondo-bizarro-type films, but after viewing HAIRSPRAY I realize that I like the direction this film took. Sure, it's extremely sentimental and "nice", but the film is so dog-done fun and has such a decent central message that it's something I highly recommend to the kids! Surely this CAN'T be the same John Waters who produced the X-Rated FEMALE TROUBLE!! Well, believe it or not, it is and Waters has actually gone "mainstream"! Wow,...next I'll see pigs fly! I initially avoided this movie because I had seen a few small glimpses of it and thought it looked too tame and a trifle boring. However, I am so glad I forced myself to try it again. The film has absolutely everything going for it--infectious music, a great style and love of the time period, a lot of great laughs, a strong socially-conscious message and a lot of characters you can't help but love.

The most shocking thing about the film to me, though, was that Divine played a very wonderful and touching mother! Despite his/her great size, she loved her daughter, Tracy, and her husband and seemed like a pretty typical housewife--despite actually being a guy in drag. Divine also played a male role as an ultra-racist jerk and it was fun seeing him in dual roles (which he also did in FEMALE TROUBLE when he made love to the female version of himself, believe it or not).

Ricki Lake played one of the more wonderful characters of a teen I have ever seen. Despite being very overweight, she was the type of kid I would love to have as a daughter--being very self-confident and decent through and through. It was also great seeing the plus-size Lake dancing very credibly in the film. In fact, I loved her dancing and the songs--you can't help but snap your fingers and enjoy them. What I particularly liked about her character was that Tracy knew she was fat but didn't care, and as a result, those around her accepted her. In particular, the cutest guy in the film fell for her and could look beyond her weight. I know this isn't exactly like real-life, but it's sure how I wish life was and it is so great to see a non-neurotic fat and happy girl on film. All too often, they are either ignored completely (such as the unwritten "no one above a size 6 allowed on the film" rule), or shown as pathetic or tortured (like in the excessively pointless and cruel French film, FAT GIRL).

Since it really is a John Waters film, despite all the nice and wonderful things, there are also the usual strange supporting characters as well. The best examples are Ric Ocasek (lead singer from The Cars) and Pia Zadora as the drugged-out beatnik couple that have very little to do with the movie's plot. But there are also appearances by Debbie Harry (from Blondie), Jerry Stiller, Sonny Bono and a few others who bounce in and out of the film. Strange casting, by the way is THE one constant in all Waters films.

Now for the plot, despite the whole emphasis on huge hair and doo-wop music, there is actually a deeper story that has substance. Ricki Lake (Tracy) has just become a regular on a local dance show (similar to American Bandstand, but set in Baltimore). She's an instant local celebrity and adored, but despite this, she cannot ignore that Black people are never allowed on the show with White kids--even though the music all has roots in the African-American culture. When her dippy friend (Penny) begins dating a nice Black man, Tracy cannot just ignore the segregation even though it would have been the safest thing for her to do in the early 60s where the movie is to have taken place.

This leads to perhaps the funniest portion of the movie. Although there is a strong message of tolerance and racial togetherness, it is handled in a very funny tongue-in-cheek manner. When Penny and the gang go to a Black neighborhood in Baltimore to learn more about the local dance scene, her mom assumes Penny is going to be murdered! When this hysterical woman chases them into the "ghetto" and then behaves like she is going to die, it is a laugh riot!!! Every time a Black person comes near her, she assumes she's going to die. When a hobo asks for a quarter, she gives him her purse and begs him not to kill her!!! It's so over-the-top, it's a great way to attack racism caused by ignorance. It gets even better when Waters himself plays a quack psychiatrist that tries to hypnotize and torture Penny into giving up dating a Black man! Despite how it sounds, this is not offensive but subversively funny! Overall, it's rare that I enjoy a movie as much as I liked this one. And when it was over, I felt great--and that makes this a truly special movie.

UPDATE: I just saw the movie again and, begrudgingly, I must admit that I actually like the remake better. It did seem to have an energy level and polish that made it just a 'hair' better.
8 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Waters' talent undeniable.
Hermit C-22 May 1999
After an abomination like 'Pink Flamingos' it was a surprise for me to learn that this guy had talent. Like Spike Lee or Oliver Stone, you've got to admit that John Waters, like him or not, is a born moviemaker. Also like those two (and ultimately all great directors) he knows how to speak with his own voice and translate his vision to the screen.

His writing is most impressive here as he manages to point up the evils of racism and segregation while not abandoning his wacked-out comedic style. And his eye for period detail is uncanny (as long as the period wasn't too long ago!) 'Hairspray' is great entertainment, fun to watch and edifying, too. Who would have thought that?
22 out of 36 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Divine's swansong, and John Waters' commercial peak
brchthethird14 November 2014
Arguably the high point of John Waters' career, HAIRSPRAY is a fun, energetic and infectious movie with a top-notch soundtrack and earnest performances from everyone involved. The story centers around Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake), a "pleasantly plump" teenager who spends her afternoons watching the Corny Collins Show, where teenagers dance the most popular dances to the latest tunes. She manages to get on the show, and from there hopes to bring integration to Baltimore, Maryland (this takes place in 1962). While still maintaining some of the weirdness which made John Waters (in)famous, this film rises above campiness because of the social ideas it embraces, e.g., racial equality. There's also hints of commentary on fame and child stars, akin to themes explored in more explicit ways in his previous films, but the focus here is on bringing people together. And what better way than through music and dancing? Just about everything in the movie works, from the retro fashion which has been lovingly recreated/exaggerated to the choreography and music. It's so catchy that you just want to get up and dance yourself. Still, the movie isn't without its negatives. The narrative is a bit thin, and the conflict is resolved a little too easily, but this can be mostly forgiven because of the strength of everything else around it. Recommended for moviegoers of all ages.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
So much better than the awful remake
les696926 July 2010
This is a great film that is so much better than the awful remake they did with John Travolta. The remake lacks all the things that males this version so brilliant. The humour, the great music and dancing and the underlying message about race and segregation in the 50's and 60's in the USA. There are so many good performances that it is hard to single out any. The script and direction are both brilliant and this is a rare combination of a feel good film with a serious message. it is comedy and drama, it is one of the only musical films I like and is one of those films I would happily watch over and over again. I am surprised that the remake was in fact so bad, missing all the elements that made this a great film, so in my opinion, give the remake a miss and buy this version on DVD!
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Truly a classic
diamondtiger5911 June 2003
This movie is terrific. It oozes John Waters even though it is very toned down compared to his earlier films. I love the storyline because it has to do with very realistic themes that were happening in those times. It's sad to know that this was Divine's last movie but he went all out in it. Obviously, this movie was good enough to have a musical made out of it. Of all the musical type films out there, Hairspray remains one of my favourites.
10 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Divines cheerful farewell
dakjets16 July 2015
What a joyful and heartfelt movie this is, and totally different from many other US productions, thanks to John Waters ability to dare to stand out. First of all, this is the final movie from the late (great) Divine, who sadly passed away a short while after the film was released. He is really good in this film, and plays one of the lead characters with humour, passion and with a heart. The film has, as John Waters other films too, many funny, and strange cameo appearances, who are amusing and entertaining. Debbie Harry shows her acting talent in this film too. The story is light and cheerful, but underneath it has a message who deals with a more serious matter, racism. John Waters brings back a world of 50-music and Dance in this film, and it's very well done. This is so much better than the remake and no one can play Edna better better than Divine although John Travolta did his best. Ricky Lake does a good job here, but is not the films biggest asset. A must see.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Fun and surprisingly watchable John Waters film...
dwpollar24 November 2008
1st watched 11/12/2008- (Dir-John Waters): Fun and surprisingly watchable John Waters film about an overweight teen trying to make it on a 50's dance show. Rikki Lake is great in the lead and Divine does a good job as her understanding mother. Despite the filmmakers reputation there are very few gross-out scenes and a good anti-racial theme protecting both overweight people and blacks. The movie has a silly premise and approach but actually does a good job of showing how stupid some of the laws against African-Americans were in the fifties and the sixties. The movie also just flat out entertains and doesn't try to take itself too seriously. I'm actually now looking forward to watching other John Water's films because of this one although I'm sure most of them are not as tame as this one.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Actually an excellent black comedy.
DaleHirst9 February 2008
And by that I don't mean the colour of someone's skin, but in the manner of The League of Gentlemen etc but rather than using gross or weird out comedy it parodies one of the most disgusting periods of humanity's history, when someone could be looked down on, legally, with the full backing of the law and the public unwillingness to integrate when it was finally legislated against.

This really was a more than decent watch if you let yourself suspend your incredulity a little. The dancing show was a hilarious parody of a 60s show, the performance by the parents and the 3 presenters outside of the show environment especially stand out as works of comedy genius with the children just there as a plot device to move the story on.

7.5/10.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Mega-Trash goes Mainstream
Ddey6514 August 2003
Despite the fact that I was a teenager in the early-1980's, for some reason I can easily sit through 1960's movies, including this one. For the first time, the undeclared prince of puke is allowed to direct a movie that isn't shown to a fringe audience. This was the final movie of Divine, the debut of Ricki Lake, and the only time Lake ever looked good -- and she looked fabulous, even with her hair ironed. John Waters made the right decision when he turned down Divine's request for a dual role as Tracy and Edna Turnblad. Somehow, Corny Collins' assistant Tammy(Dreamland veteran Mink Stole) seemed like a pre-cursor to Kevin Smith's "Silent Bob." Also, the fact that Amber Von Tussle(Colleen Fitzpatrick) was willing to dance to a song like "Shake a Tailfeather," against her mother's wishes gives me a sense that her character might not be as much of a bitch if it weren't for her parents.

As Motormouth Maybelle, Ruth Brown kicks a$$ as a soul DJ with a hidden(?) agenda -- Wiping out segregation in Metropolitan Baltimore. When she introduced Gene Pitney's "Town Without Pity," you knew she was directing it at those who still insist on the false policy of "separate but equal."

One of the most hilarious moments was the cartoon-like segment where Prudy Pingleton (Joanne Havrila) enters a black neighborhood to 'rescue' her daughter Penny from the arms of her black boyfriend Seaweed, foolishly thinking she was "snatched" by those "natives." A much more subtle aspect is that one of the reporters interviewing the Governor of Maryland was Buddy Deane, the real-life inspiration for Corny Collins.

As mainstream as it was, looking back on it you'd never think anyone else but John Waters could make a movie like this. It's unfortunate that the real-life incidents Waters based portions of it upon didn't turn out as happily as they did here, but like all storytellers, he can make things better than they really are. I did get a sense though during one of the dance sequences that Penny Pingleton(Leslie Ann Powers) didn't exactly like dancing with Seaweed, and was actually more interested in Link. Maybe that was why she was only in one movie, but I suppose we'll never know unless Powers tells us herself.
6 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
The Name 'Corny Collins' Says It All
ccthemovieman-125 June 2006
This fast-moving film had a number of good and bad things going for or against it....at least with me.

It was very corny, but that was the idea. In fact, one of the characters is named "Corny Collins." It was pretty charming film, too, with the put-ons about the old American Bandstand-type dance shows that were television for years. "Hairspray" features some good 1960s music, too.

The first half of this movie is about local teens of that period and the dance and petty jealousies in the group while the second half theme is all about racism. When I saw this movie in the mid '90s, I was shocked to see talk show host Ricki Lake in here, and looking so young and fat. She was way overweight, but was a good dancer. (Some of the dances in here are hilarious.) Her mother in the film was played by transvestite "Divine." Yes, this is a another movie by the sick director John Waters who loved to feature Divine in his films, this being probably the most tame story he put on screen.

The film takes place in Baltimore, and whether racism in that city was a bad as Waters portrays it here, I don't know, but I wouldn't be happy if I lived in that city and saw this movie. However, this film is like "Leave It To Beaver" combined to some of the other stuff Waters has produced over the years.
9 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Big butt broad breaks bop barrier
helpless_dancer10 April 2004
Let me start off by claiming Sonny Bono can't act. But who cares, this was so much fun I even forgot Cher wasn't around. Judging from most of the bilge I've seen her in it was most likely a Godsend. I thought the dance floor sets looked realistic as did the costumes, but especially appreciated those beehive hair-dos. Corny Collins slicked back ducktail was a good laugh and he reminded me of when I used to watch Larry Kane and Dick Clark on Houston television after school. You know, back when kids actually completed dance steps instead of standing in one spot and quivering. Pia was way cool as the ahead of her time hippie chick. When the fat girl gasped, "drugs!", I almost fell out. One touching scene in the production was the polite drunk singing the song of lost love as he tottered down the walkway. Delightful little piece of nothing with lots of zany, obnoxious characters.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
The Original Hairspray by John Waters
afrazier-48-9876207 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Thanks for the opportunity to say, Hairspray, the John Waters version shows the most accurate portrayal of 60's life anywhere, let alone Baltimore. Racism and how John Waters handled it with such humor makes him a King in my book. The Stephen King of comedy. Meanwhile much of the cast has went on to stardom and recognition in other venues. Right Riki Lake? One of my favorite cast members from the show Holter Graham, Mr. "two out of sight years" is currently staying busy appearances on soap operas, detective series etc. You know how you could just swear that your seeing someone familiar on a show but access to the cast? Well there you go, because I always thought I was seeing him here and there.I'm glad to have just found out, thanks to todays modern technology (you tube)! Keep rocking! I love you for it!

Alex Frazier
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
campy fun with a good message
SnoopyStyle30 June 2015
It's 1960s Baltimore. Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake) and her best friend Penny Pingleton (Leslie Ann Powers) are obsessed with The Corny Collins Show and audition for the all-white local TV show. Blacks are relegated to Negro Day. Tracy becomes a hit infuriating queen bee Amber Von Tussle (Colleen Fitzpatrick) and her stage mom Velma (Debbie Harry). Amber's father Franklin Von Tussle (Sonny Bono) owns Tilted Acres amusement park. Tracy befriends the black students in school and record store owner Motormouth Maybelle. She starts dating Maybelle's son Seaweed and joins an effort to integrate the show.

It's campy fun. John Waters keeps his weird indie extravagances in check to bring something a little more mainstream. He dives into issues that are near and dear to his heart. The deliberate corn is endearing although it could use more outright laughs. This is a really sincere and touching movie. The actors led by Ricki Lake are mostly good.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
One of the few movies directed by John Waters that I like.
h_wilson923 January 2010
Hairspray directed by John Waters is one of the first movies that he directed that was mainstream and less obscure/ extreme to cinema goers in 1988.I decided to give the original version of this movie a go before watching the 2007 remake I have seen this movie at least five times and is one of those movies that never gets old or flat after watching it multiple times.My favorite character was Edna Turnblad played by drag queen Divine.I thought this movie was more cruder than the 2007 remake but it was still acceptable to mainstream cinema.I really liked the songs in this movie.This movie was very funny and had some fantastic quotes.This is one of the few musicals I liked.

Rating : 9/10 stars.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
5/10
Nice style but that's about it!
The_Void3 March 2009
Hairspray marks something of a departure for director John Waters; a man best known for his 'bad taste' pictures such as Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble. The film still features Waters' style, but the bad taste is massively toned down and the whole feel of the movie could be described as 'John Waters Lite'. The film is set in 1962 Baltimore and music is the major focus of the film. Waters obviously realised that the style of it would be the major attraction; and as such has taken time to lay it on as thick as possible, and this blends well with the music and storyline. The plot focuses on a corny music show enjoyed by the teens in Baltimore. 'Pleasantly plump' Tracy Turnblad is one of the many obsessed by this show and sets out to get a role as one of the dancers. She achieves her goal and soon becomes a local hero, but she loses some friends when she decides to use her success in order to speak out for what she believes in - namely social integration.

While John Waters' style is one of the best things about the movie, in another way it's one of the worst. In his earlier films, the content is generally distracting enough for the audience not to really notice the rather boring directorial style; but this film doesn't have that, and while the style is a big enough distraction at first; it soon becomes clear that the plot is rather lacking and the film becomes dull before we even reach the halfway point. Hairspray stars Ricki Lake in the lead role, and she does a rather good job with it. The role doesn't require any great acting talents, but she is at least bright and breezy for the duration. The rest of the cast is filled out nicely by an eclectic list of names, which includes Debbie Harry, Divine, Pia Zadora and even the director himself in an amusing role as a psychologist. The message regarding segregation may well be a good one; but really it's not all that interesting and isn't put forward particularly well, and that's where the film falls down. Overall, I do like the style of the film and appreciate the ideas behind it; but it's not well executed and I don't rate it among Waters' best efforts.
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Hairspray may not have been the best film I ever saw, but it is a very good social commentary set in the exaggerated fantasy world of the early 1960s.
dr_forbush5 January 2005
I went to the library yesterday and ran across the John Waters movie "Hairspray." I had heard about this movie and I have heard John Waters interviewed a few times, so I thought it would be interesting to see the movie. Based on what I had heard I was prepared for some outrageous bizarre movie, or maybe a bit of schlock. I wasn't quite sure, because I never seen a John Waters movie. But he was strange in his interviews, so I thought that his work should reflect that.

I put the movie into the DVD player and I heard the "Hairspray" theme song, which didn't sound too very odd. So, I started out being surprised that the movie wasn't as bizarre as I had expected. In knew that the movie featured a strange array of actors, so I waited to see how these people came across on my TV screen. Divine, Sonny Bono, and Debbie Harry were a strange collection to start with. I had seen Divine in some other strange movie that I don't remember now. Sonny Bono is a strange character beginning with his career with Cher then moving into his conservative legislature experience. And, Debbie Harry has a small place in my heart, because she is a fellow Ohio native that I respect.

The plot of the movie is actually a typical hero triumph over evil plot. But, the rest of the movie is far from typical.

The hero of the movie is an overweight, female teen. The setting of the movie is early 1960s Baltimore. The villains in the movie are several, society in general.

But, the movie is a strange concoction of fantasy and reality. The fantasy part is that an overweight female teen is so wise to know how good should be able to put and end to racism by enabling black kids to come dance to black music on TV. She is wise enough to know that overweight couch potatoes want to watch her dance on TV so they can live their fantasy through her. She is wise enough to know that the owner of hefty women's wear store would want advertising on a teen dance show. All of these things could only be realized in a fantasy world. But the world is also exaggerated in a way that racism can be understood as fear of the unknown where the cure is clearly enlightenment. The movie frames racism as a black and white issue with an obvious solution. This is clearly a nice alternative to modern movies that embrace the reality of the gray world. I am not saying that all movies need to frame problems as black and white issues, but this is a refreshing change of pace movie.

But, the final breakthrough in this movie is the realism. Realism in a fantasy movie seems to be a contradiction, but the realism is the realism of the characters. Hairspray gives us very real characters that live in a very non-real world. Of course we have the overweight heroin. We also have the nasty habit of the heroin's sidekick who continuously takes a piece of candy out of her mouth and replaces it over and over again. The red dye of the candy has stained her fingers. We have the realism of the heroin's rival puking from riding an amusement park ride.

Hairspray may not have been the best film I ever saw, but it is a very good social commentary set in the exaggerated fantasy world of the early 1960s.
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews