Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hairspray (1988)

I always forget my love of John Waters until I am faced with his complete brilliance. He is the trashy Andy Warhol (although, I find Warhol to be quite trashy... and overrated). Waters created his own little group of "actors" referred to as Dreamlanders. This group was made up of eclectic personas ranging from Mink Stole, Divine, and Edith Massey. A rag tag group.

The moment I started watching Hairspray (for the many-th time) I realized this film is probably in my top ten films of all time list. How sad that I forgot just how brilliant the entire film truly is. Waters uses a few of the Dreamlanders to create a fairly mainstream film. Up until Hairspray, Waters was busy making X rated comedies with actors fornicating in chicken blood, eating dog shit, and prancing around with sausages tied to their private parts (see Pink Flamingos). Waters has the same sense of over the top drama at play in Hairspray. The acting is pretty bad (as per usual for a Waters film), the occasional mic can be seen at the top of the screen, and occasionally it feels like the cast is just learning their lines. But, this is Waters' world and these are the traits of his films.

The cast of Hairspray is pop perfection: Ricki Lake, Divine, Jerry Stiller, Deborah Harry, Ruth Brown, and Sonny Bono to name a few. They all put in excellent performances as horrible actors. A true trash pop art feast.

The film is much stronger than I remembered. The theme of music as being a vital part of life. How music should join us. The issues of racism in the '60s is the central plot of the film. And, at times, the sentimentality of the film really does get a strong point across. This may seem like some light skipping through a colorful creation, but Waters is really working towards a point.


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