Waters transforms the teen flick
Wave goodbye to the wedge. Forget the Farrah. Banish the bob. The beehive is back, and John Waters teases it to comic heights in the spiffy Hairspray.
Wave goodbye to the wedge. Forget the Farrah. Banish the bob. The beehive is back, and John Waters teases it to comic heights in the spiffy
For those weirded out by such warped Waters opuses as Pink Flamingoes, Desperate Living and Polyester, be assured that wholesome Hairspray (PG!) is a movie that everyone and his grandmother will love.
What's not to like about a film that celebrates rock-and-roll and integration in 1962, when black music was enjoyed - not to mention profited
from - by whites who wouldn't allow blacks in dance halls or on TV dance shows? In this unapologetically gaudy extravaganza where every surface that's not flocked looks gummy with hair lacquer, Waters parodies the cliches of teen flicks and liberalism. Somehow he defies the law of gravity by making the peppiest and most socially redeeming of teen movies.
Set in Baltimore, the hairdo capital of America if not the cosmos, Hairspray is the success story of bouffant-coiffed chubbette Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake). Because Tracy is always being cited by the girls' vice- principal for her highly ratted and lacquered hair, her parents (Jerry Stiller and Divine) worry that she might be - oh, no! - a "hairhopper." Must be from inhaling all that Aqua Net!
The high-schooler aspires to be the most popular teen on a local after- school dance TV program, The Corny Collins Show, where her chances look slim, as all the girls are reed-thin Sandra Dee types.
Despite her girth but perhaps because of the girth of her coif, Tracy is a lollapalooza at her audition for Corny Collins. When Tracy stomps the Roach or shimmies the Waddle, chain down the furniture!
In no time, Tracy is the star of the show, much to the chagrin of princessy Amber Von Tussle (Colleen Fitzpatrick), a Sandra Dee type who had been the program's teen queen before Tracy's debut. (We know that Amber is genuine royalty because her parents are played by Sonny Bono and Debbie Harry. )
It steams the racist Amber that Tracy popularizes black music like "Shake Your Tail Feather. " Amber prefers white-bread stuff, like Pat Boone's cover of Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti. " It steams Amber even more that her hunky beau, Link (Michael St. Gerard), is falling for Tracy, as is all Baltimore.
The battle lines between brunet pudgette and blond princess are clear, but since this is a John Waters movie and not a Barbie party, the issue is not Link. The issue is social conscience and how having one is hipper than a hot hairdo. Under the influence of two beatniks (Pia Zadora and Ric Ocasek), Tracy decides to fight for integration. First The Corny Collins Show, then all of Baltimore!
Crammed with high ideals and low comedy, retro gimcracks and progressive thinking,
frantic 88-music-filled minutes make for the grooviest of satires.
Produced by Rachel Talalay, written and directed by John Waters, photography by David Insley, music by Kenny Vance, distributed by New Line Cinema.
Running time: 1 hour, 28 mins.
Tracy Turnblad - Ricki Lake
Arvin Hodgepile - Divine
Franklin Von Tussle - Sonny Bono
Velma Von Tussle - Debbie Harry
Wilbur Turnblad - Jerry Stiller
Parent's guide: PG (nothing offensive).