Release Date: February 26, 1988
Director: John Waters
Starring: Sonny Bono, Ruth Brown, Divine, Debbie Harry, Ricki Lake, Jerry Stiller, Ric Ocasek, Pia Zadora.
Tag Lines: “It’s way beyond Grease.”
“Baltimore, 1962. The heyday of hair-dos and hair-don’ts, Heartthrobs and hefty girls, hot dates and hip talkers, beatniks and hair hoppers, and one magical potion that keeps it all together.”
“1962. When… Milk came in bottles. Phones had dials. Cadillacs had fins. Beehives were in. And girls really knew how to tease?”
“A new comedy by John Waters.”
“Get Back To Your Roots!”
“1962… JFK was in The White House… John Glenn was in orbit… Cadillacs had fins… Beehives were in… And girls really knew how to tease!”
“A Comedy By John Waters.”
“The 60’s Comedy That Shows No Mercy!”
“The world was in a mess… but their hair was perfect!!”
“A movie with a beat you can laugh to!”
Relevance: It wasn’t until my freshman year in college did I even know who John Waters was. Theater friends of mine were “shocked” that I didn’t and immediately sat down with me sometime in the spring of 1990 and forced me to watch ‘Hairspray.’ I am not sure which was more entertaining, the movie itself or my friends acting out the entire movie while it played. (There may or may not have been illegal substances used during this viewing.)
As soon as I watched ‘Hairspray’ I loved it and couldn’t believe that I had not seen it before. It was watched numerous times the remainder of my freshman year, sans illegal substances (for the most part). Over that summer, because I loved the movie so much, I decided to dive into other John Waters’ works. So I watched ‘Pink Flamingos,’ ‘Female Trouble,’ and ‘Polyester.’ Let’s just say that I was not as thrilled with those movies as much as I was with ‘Hairspray.’ His movies are definitely an acquired taste and it’s not a taste I ever could get into, except for this movie and one other that will be watched sometime later this year.
That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate John Waters as an artist, because I do. His unique, bizarre, humorous look on life is refreshing. His contributions to pop culture are endless and what a boring world we would be living in without him. Just don’t make me watch most of his movies.
Today’s Thoughts: ‘Hairspray’ still makes me smile. And that is what I did today when I watched it. Smile. It’s probably been over ten years since I watched it last, but it is one that has stayed fresh and familiar in my mind.
Today’s viewing also made me smile because of the fond memories of watching it for the first time at the age of nineteen with great friends, some that are sadly no longer with us. I found myself saying a lot of the lines right along with the movie, although I swear there were not any illegal substances used today. With lines like these, how can you not love this film:
“I watch that tramp and I’m embarrassed to be white.”
“We’ll get high and I’ll iron the chick’s hair…Let’s get naked and smoke.”
“I wish I was at a hootenanny in Harlem.”
“Could you turn that racket down? I’m trying to iron in here.”
“Fatty, fatty, two by four. Can’t get through the dressing room door?”
“I’ve got hampers of laundry and my diet pill is wearing off!”
“Penny, they put me in Special Ed just because of my hair.”
I freaking love this cast! Divine, Ricki Lake, Jerry Stiller, Sonny Bono and Debbie Harry are all marvelously campy, over-the-top and perfect in the movie. But Ric Ocasek and Pia Zadora as the Beatniks still own my favorite scene. I always wanted a spin-off movie called “Beatnik Cat and Beatnik Chick.” I’m still hoping that it happens.
I am also a fan of the Broadway musical “Hairspray.” I have seen it many times on stage and I think it captures the fun and zaniness of John Waters, although watered down a bit to make it more family friendly. Like the movie, it simply makes me smile. Just please don’t get me started on the film version of the musical with John Travolta. It’s not good. At all. Watch the original classic instead, with or without illegal substances, and call me over to watch it with you!
Awards: Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature (nomination), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Director, John Waters, Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead, Ricki Lake (nomination), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female, Debbie Harry (nomination), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male, Divine (nomination), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay, John Waters.
Ways to Watch: YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, DVD Availability.