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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Hairspray (1988)

In 1962 Baltimore, a chubby teenage girl (Ricki Lake) becomes a popular figure on a local TV record hop show. But her mean spirited rival (Colleen Fitzpatrick) plots with her mother (Debbie Harry) to ruin her chances at winning Miss Auto Show of 1963. Meanwhile, the TV show itself comes under fire for blocking black teens from appearing on the show. Who would have thought that the Emperor of Bad Taste, John Waters of PINK FLAMINGOS fame could be the architect behind this delightful and dare I say it, sweet and charming dance musical. With its PG rating, this is practically a family movie! Loosely inspired by actual events, a Baltimore dance show called THE BUDDY DEANE SHOW, Waters skewers everything from racism to dance names (the bug, the roach etc.). Despite the presence of a major social problem of the era -integration- in its narrative, this is pure entertainment, not a treatise on social injustice. Still, it makes it point sharply and succinctly without going all Stanley Kramer on us. With Divine as Lake's mother and dominating every scene he's in and Jerry Stiller, Sonny Bono, Pia Zadora, Ric Ocasek, Ruth Brown, Mink Stole and Shawn Thompson. 

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