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Hairspray (1988)

2 Ratings: 2.5
Art House & International, Comedy, and Cult Movies movie

John Waters made his bid for PG respectability with this enjoyably trashy comedy about the racial integration of a teen dance show on Baltimore television in the early '60s. Waters, as always, makes a virtue of junk culture and the powerful emotional … see full wiki

Tags: Movies, Comedy Movies, John Waters Movies
1 review about Hairspray (1988)

Good Movie but Not Great

  • Aug 27, 2007
Rating:
+1
After seeing the 2007 adaptation of the musical, I wanted to see this version to compare it. I had seen it before but it had been a while. I don't think it'd be fair to compare it to the 2007 film considering if this film wasn't around, we wouldn't have the broadway version or the new version on screens now. That being said, I always see this film in the "musical" section at stores. It's not really a musical at all; it's like those movies with a good soundtrack that at times eclipses the actual film and acting; the music plays a large role in the film but the actors aren't performing the songs. This is more about dancing, segregation, race and for that, it's an entertaining film.

I think the weakest part of the film is the writing. So much is packed into the plot that it seems to skip around and you're not left with a really good or concrete understanding of why things are the way they are. You don't truly believe Tracy and Link are in love; they seem thrown together for effect without any explanation. Amber in the film automatically dislikes Tracy, again, with some reason but not to the level portrayed in the film. A lot of the dynamics and relationships are fully explored in the film; you don't get or see the mother/daughter bond between Tracy and Edna here and there are parts where it's just silence, where you're waiting for something to happen or it feels as if a joke's gone bad.

Now, for the good, the dancing is great. I found the best dance scenes to be toward the end with Amber doing 'The Roach' and Tracy's response, 'The Bug." It's a very light film, meant to be fun and not taken seriously. Divine is humorous, doesn't try to 'be a woman' as John Travolta tries to be in the latest adaptation. Once you realize Divine is in drag, the jokes over pretty much and Edna fades into the background. Jerry Stiller plays Tracy's dad, but again, he's funny and after a while even his character gets lost.

DVD wise, this version of the film is begging for another release. Perhaps a special edition with commentary, extended scenes, deleted scenes, SOMETHING because all you get here is the trailer. After seeing the 2007 version, this seems a bit lacking in many areas, flat and simply boring. Yet, I believe it's still watchable and entertaining in its own way when you seperate it from the different versions it spawned. Check it out at your own risk. It'll at least get you up and dancing.

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