Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Empire's New Tom Cruise Cover
The Jameson Empire Awards 2014
Vote: The Greatest 301 Movies Of All Time!
Rebecca Hall:
My Movie Life

The actress picks the movies that shaped her
Mountain Dew Green Screen
Register Now to see X-MEN First Class!
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Sonny Bono
Ruth Brown
Divine
Colleen Fitzpatrick.
Directors
John Waters.
Screenwriters
John Waters.
Running Time
90 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
An Episode In The Life Of An Iron Picker
4 Star Empire Rating
Cupcakes
3 Star Empire Rating
You & Me Forever
4 Star Empire Rating
Looking For Light: Jane Brown
3 Star Empire Rating
Informant, The
2 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Rebel Without A Cause
5 Star Empire Rating
Calvary
5 Star Empire Rating
Wake In Fright
5 Star Empire Rating
Stranger By The Lake
5 Star Empire Rating
Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?
5 Star Empire Rating

Hairspray


submit to reddit


Plot
Baltimore, 1962. Chubby Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake) is devoted to 'The Corny Collins Show', a local pop program in which white teens dance to cleaned-up black music. Tracy fights her way onto the show and leads a crusade for integrated television that soon sparks off riots in the local carnival.


Review

John Waters’ first near-overground feature, this feels less like a project from the sicko who made Pink Flamingoes and his regular star Divine than something in the filmography of Baltimore's other resident director, Barry Levinson.  Like Diner and Tin Men, Hairspray is rooted in recreation of and affection for an early '60s when things were even more confusing than they became. 

Aside from one or two teeny zit and vomit jokes, the film is remarkably clean-spirited, with all the nastiness confined to the unpleasant Von Tussle family and a racist TV station owner and the teens settling their differences in the approved Frankie and Annette fashion by dancing their feet off.  The social content is half-sent-up in a Russ Meyer sort of way, but Waters' pose as an amoral pervert slips somewhat and develops an alternate identity as a waspish, essentially moral, satirist. 

Meanwhile, as vital social issues are debated, the kids are more interested in shimmying, turning their heads into abstract sculptures via ever more outrageous hairstyles and showing off pre-fab '60s outfits.  This is the first Waters film feature actual technical competence behind the cameras, and brings on real performers rather than one-note grotesques. 

Divine, in one of his last appearances, is still a limited actress, but despite having two roles doesn't have enough screen time to become as annoying as he too often does in starring roles.  With cheerfully grotesque cameos from Debbie Harry, Pia Zadora and Sonny Bono.  Thoroughly charming, and later a Broadway musical. 


Verdict
Thoroughly deserving of its cult status


Reviewed by Kim Newman

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Hairspray
Empire Star Rating

HAIRSPRAY!!!

this is an unmissable cult classic!!!yes its not to everyones taste but i suggest that anyone who despises john water should give it a go ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by cosmomckinley at 20:21, 07 October 2006 | Report This Post



CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Making Of Locke: A Filmmaker's Journey
Steven Knight takes us through six pitstops (via Heston Services)

The 10 Most Exciting Movies At Cannes 2014
Empire's pick of the Croisette's finest

Tom Hardy: A Viewer's Guide
The essential, the recommended, the one for the fans... and the one to avoid

Ten Things To Know About The Spooks Movie
Under the hood of The Greater Good

Who’s In Spider-Man’s Sinister Six?
A bluffer’s guide to the planned spin-off from the Amazing Spider-films

14 YouTube Videos Every Game Of Thrones Fan Should Have Watched By Now
From goats singing the theme tune to every death in under three minutes

Hollywood's Biggest Names On Their Favourite Films
Stars and directors like Nolan, Whedon, Wright and Ford on the films that inspire them

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get Limited Edition Collectable X-Men Art Cards

Subscribe today and get 6 issues of Empire plus a set of collectable X-Men Art Cards for only £20!

Subscribe today

Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Just £25
Receive limited edition subscribers-only covers every month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)