U.S., 1988, 92 min, 35mm, Dir. Jon Waters, Rated PG, Warner Bros.
“Not only Waters's best movie, but a crossover gesture that expands his appeal without compromising his vision one iota; Ricki Lake as the hefty young heroine is especially delightful.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
John Waters turned to the dance show craze of the 60s for Hairspray, the transgressive director’s only film to ever receive a PG rating. Hefty teen Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake in her acting debut) auditions for The Corny Collins Show, a popular Baltimore teen dance show, and improbably wins a spot when she upstages her bitter rival Amber von Tussle (Colleen Fitzpatrick). Armed with her skyrocketing popularity, Tracy sets her sights on racial integration in Baltimore as even the dance show relegates African-Americans to one weekly spot on air. Waters brings to life a story of racial tension and the shallow beliefs of public appearance through his own unique style. The film also stars frequent collaborator Divine, in his final role, as Tracy’s mother, Jerry Stiller, Debbie Harry, and Sonny Bono.
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