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Hairspray More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Big butt broad breaks bop barrier

Author: helpless_dancer from Broken Bow, Oklahoma
10 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.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Mega-Trash goes Mainstream

Author: Ddey65 from United States
14 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.

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Splendidly kitsch but accessible- a classic

Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
10 June 2017

'Hairspray' to me is one of John Waters' best. It is also his most accessible films, where Waters tones things down compared to most of his other films and stylistically and such it doesn't fall prone to excess.

As a Waters film, 'Hairspray' is a delight and splendidly kitsch, a classic if you will. It has its minor flaws, a few scenes and strands are resolved a little too easily and Michael St Gerard is a bit bland compared to the rest of the cast. These minor flaws are far outweighed by the numerous elements that 'Hairspray' does right.

One thing that 'Hairspray' particularly excels in is the casting. Divine, in his last film before his premature death shortly after, gives a performance of sheer brilliance, and Waters regulars Sonny Bono and Mink Sole are similarly electric. 'Hairspray' was the film that rose Ricki Lake to stardom and she does a wonderful job and more than holds her own against the more experienced cast members, just for the record am not a fan of her talk show but her performance may have initial non-fans being converted. The rest of the cast are great too.

It's a good looking film too, well photographed and colourfully designed. The soundtrack is another highlight of 'Hairspray', delighting constantly. The script has some lovely black humour and there is a lot of wit.

While not the busiest of stories, the story in 'Hairspray' has a lot of heart and has a darker undercurrent too with the exploration of racism. Waters' direction is wisely restrained in a film that called for a toned down and less excessive approach.

Overall, a classic. On a side note, a few people have been less than charitable towards the 2007 musical remake and one being pretty insulting towards anybody who liked it better. Count me in as someone who loved the 2007 film, while loving both versions in their own ways for different reasons. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

From the fun Corny Collins Show, to Just Plain Corny

Author: julzie61295
1 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Personally, some parts of this movie have left me laughing to death. And these weren't the "meant to be funny" parts. This version of Hairspray is definitely cheesy. However, it was alright. When I saw this movie for the first time on ABC Family, I was really excited. Then, as it began, I was getting the feeling the whole movie would be filled with cheesy jokes and corny acting.

***Spoilers begin here***

The scene where Penny and Tracy are watching the "Cory Collins Show" to the time where Penny said "I'm always punished," was where the worst acting took place. The rest of the movie was pretty good, except for the parts where Tracy and her classmates where playing dodge ball, and when the riot broke out at Tilted Acres.

All in all, I gave Hairspray a 6/10 for alright acting, good dancing, good laughs and corny (so to speak) moments.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Plus Size Ricky

Author: dunbare from United States
20 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hairspray is a wonderful John Waters quirk fest about racial equality, music, fat vs skinny and weird inhabitants in Baltimore!


Ricky Lake pre "go Ricky, go Ricky" plays Tracy Turnblad a fat...OK pleasantly plump teenager who wants to be a featured dancer on the COrny Collins show. Tracy the outgoing sweetheart and heroine to fat girls everywhere is mocked for her girth and her big hair. In school after her hair causes a commotion in class she is sent to special ed where we learn the racist piece of garbage principal puts "the black kids he wants to hold back." Here is where Tracy meets Seaweed the smooth black kid who sets Tracy's shy blond sidekick Penny Pingletons (Leslie ann Powers) heart a flutter! Seaweed is also son to the awesome Motormouh Maybelle((love all the names of the characters!). Motormouth Maybelle0(Ruth Brown) hosts the oh so politically incorrect "Negro day" dance show (This film is set in the racial tension of the 60's), and wishes to have equality in the dance show.

I always liked the friendship between Tracy and Penny. Penny is blond, skinny and way to overprotected by her looney of a mother. Tracy in turn falls for the super dreamy Link Larkin. Michael St. Gerard plays Link who looks so much like a very young Elvis Presley. Link is dating the resident rich, skinny, bitch Amber Von Tussle(ColleenFitzpatrick). Amber and Tracy have an ongoing feud as Amber does not want the popular Tracy to steal her thunder after all, she is "too fat" as Amber puts it to be on Corny Collins.

Now the parents of heroine Tracy are Edna and Wlbur Turnblad. Edna is played by the wonderful Divine who is critical of Tracy's weight, even though Edna herself is no thin pin. Sensitive Wilbur is played by Jerry Stiller (Bens dad) who thinks his daughter is beautiful. Amber also has equally kooky parents Debra Harry plays Velma Von Tussle like every stereotypical trophy wife who spoils her daughter. Sonny Bono plays the equally idiotic Franklin von Tussell.

My favorite think about this movie are all the quirky characters. I hear it is being remade into a musical, but i'm sorry it cannot top this JOhn Waters gem. A hilarious movie worth every moment.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

John Waters does it again

Author: shuz from Pheonix AZ USA
1 October 1998

I remember when this one came out everyone couldn't believe John Waters was releasing a PG rated movie. After "Pink Flamingoes", the hysterical "Female Trouble", and "Polyester", we were expecting more shock. He ended up delivering his most satisfying film to date. Ricki Lake is unabashed and completely perfect in the role of Tracy Turnblad, a chunky 60's teen who's dream to be a dancer on the "Corny Collins Show" comes true. Her dancing makes this movie, and her scenes with Divine, who plays Mrs. Turnblad, are a riot. It is such a shame Divine died soon after filming, this close to achieving the fame he deserved. Waters' casting was brilliant, including Sonny Bono and Debbie Harry as manipulative parents, Ric Ocasek and Pia Zadora as beatniks, and "Seinfeld"'s Jerry Stiller as Tracy's dad. My favorite Waters regular Mink Stole also has a part, it is still my dream to see Mink Stole make it big (She had a more memorable role as Dottie Hinkle, the neighbor Kathleen Turner cusses out on the phone in Waters' film "Serial Mom"). If you want to laugh, see this one.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A guilty pleasure that I'm sure will become your's as well when you see it

Author: Kristine ( from Chicago, Illinois
4 February 2007

I heard a little bit about Hairspray, kinda like maybe it was an underground classic, some have heard of it, some haven't, but I just watched it over the weekend to find to surprise that it was directed by John Waters and starred Divine, I just recently viewed ...sigh... Pink Flamingos, so I had no idea as to what to expect from this movie. But I'd have to say it was a real pleasure to watch, as silly of a story as it was, it worked. In today's world, big girls are not really as well excepted, Ricki Lake took on that role as Tracy and made it OK to be big and beautiful.

She plays Tracy Turnbird, a plump teenage girl who is a huge fan of a dance show called the Corny Collins show, she and her friend go onto the show and Tracy quickly jumps in to become one of the favorite dancers, in fact even more popular than her thinner rivals. But Tracy wins everyone's heart including her family and the love of the public as she goes to prove that big girls don't cry... that and you can never have hair that doesn't stand up high enough... you'll get that when you see the movie.

Hairspray is a good movie, it had decent acting and a cute story that I'm sure that anyone could enjoy. So please do give it a look, I'm sure I'll see it again down the road, I told my friends about it and they are actually interested in seeing it, so goes to show you that the film might be still remembered for a few more decades to come, especially since it's being remade I just noticed, oi, Hollywood, can't you come up with something original?


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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

wacky hair dos

Author: Emilie from Wisconsin
22 December 2003

movie about ricki lake attempting to get on a dance show. wow, what a movie to write about. i did like the penny character, who has a kind of quirkiness that adds some drama to the movie. the drama is all over the movie, but every movie has to add the drama to get their audience interested. the man that plays ricki's lover boy is cute as a button, and really knows how to dance. did they hand pick their extras or maybe the actors since dancing is really is the much needed of the movie, since the point of the movie was to get to dance on the tv show that is kinda like the american bandstand? oh well, the movie was funny and enjoyable and i liked it. (B+ B)

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Nice style but that's about it!

Author: The_Void from Beverley Hills, England
3 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.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

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.

Author: dr_forbush ( from California
5 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.

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