Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Crazy 80's Project: Hairspray


As a big fan of director John Waters, the legendary Divine and the musical adaptation of the film, I'm really surprised it has taken me this long to see the original Hairspray. But I have now remedied this situation, and boy am I glad I did. The story is the same as in every other incarnation: plucky overweight teen Tracy Turnblad winds up on the popular teen dancing show The Corny Collins Show and finds herself fighting against segregation in 1960's Baltimore. Although far less crude than earlier Waters classics like Female Trouble and Pink Flamingos, Hairspray has its own peculiar charm which works in this family-friendly--at least for John Waters--film. It's easy to see why Hairspray was turned into a musical, as the original is already so dependent on its soundtrack of 60's hits to provide atmosphere. The film is so fun and bouncy you hardly notice Waters' racial commentary sneaking its way into the film, which was the 2007 version's only major flaw. There's one scene in particular where Tracy and Link are making out behind a building and they utter ridiculous, Waters-ian lines like, "Our souls are black, though our skin is white." Lines such as this give the Race Issue far more intrigue and depth than anything in the musical version. All in all, Hairspray is simply a gloriously fun time, and probably the only Divine film I'd let a child watch. B+

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