Thursday, December 5, 2013

Movie #229: Hairspray

Hairspray is a John Waters movie that doesn't involve anyone eating dog poo. It stars Ricki Lake, Divine, Jerry Stiller, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Debbie Harry, Leslie Ann Powers, and Ruth Brown.

Set in the 1960s as racial tensions are at a boiling point, Hairspray tells, in the campiest way possible, the story of Tracy Turnblad (Lake), a young "hair hopper" who wants to get on the Corny Collins Show, which is apparently a show where teenagers dance to contemporary music (the concept is a little lost on me, I grant). Tracy manages it by basically shoving her way to the front and dancing well, despite being, as she says, "pleasantly plump," and becomes an instant success and model for a plus-size dress shop. Her mother (Divine) initially resists, but quickly comes to enjoy her celebrity, as does her best friend Penny (Powers), though Penny's hyper-Catholic racist nutbar mother (Joann Havrilla) does her best to keep Penny under wraps.

Tracy gets in trouble at school and winds up in "special ed," or, in this case, "the class with the black kids." She makes friends with them, and with Motormouth Maybelle (Brown), the lady who hosts "Negro Day" on the show, and learns more dances. She becomes a voice for integration, steals the boyfriend of the popular, stage-parent-oppressed Amber (Fitzpatrick), and goes on to win the dance pageant, even if doing that involves kidnapping the governor for a pardon.

The movie is campy as hell, but for John Waters it's surprisingly accessible. I have no idea where I got it; I thought I owned the 2007 musical version with John Travolta, but evidently not. Now I kinda want to see that version, because as campy as this is I can't help but think it would only be improved by becoming a musical.

My Grade: B
Rewatch value: Low

Next up: Happy Feet