aec.newl6099dvd 11/5/02 New
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Forever interested in the kitsch built into past eras, director John Waters chooses the TV dance show craze of the early '60s for his playful focus in Hairspray. Ricki Lake plays Tracy Turnblad, just one of several alliteratively named characters coming of age in 1962 Baltimore, where "The Corny Collins Show" is the most popular American Bandstand-type program, watched by hundreds of young dreamers each day after school. Being chosen to dance on it is the ultimate status symbol and every young girl's dream, and Tracy improbably wins a featured spot when she infiltrates a dance contest and makes a better impression than her favored rival, the catty Amber von Tussle (Colleen Fitzpatrick). Always able to have fun, even when she's being mocked by the jealous popular girls, Tracy wins the affections of Amber's boyfriend and soon begins leading a movement to integrate the dance show, which has previously featured blacks only in a once-weekly theme night. She is arrested following a demonstration at a local theme park owned by Amber's father (Sonny Bono), who subscribes to the same theory of race relations as "The Corny Collins Show." Tracy's adventures are also filtered through her loving but eccentric parents (Divine and Jerry Stiller) and involve a humorous cultural clash with pot-smoking beatniks (Ric Ocasek and Pia Zadora). ~ Derek Armstrong, Rovi


Review Text John Waters' films may not be to everyone's taste, but give him credit: when it comes to assembling a soundtrack, he uses a lot more imagination than most directors. Set in the early '60s, Hairspray has a few hits from the era (Gene Pitney's "Town Without Pity," and Barbara Lynn's "You'll Lose a Good Thing," Jan Bradley's "Mama Didn't Lie"). But it's mostly given over to dance/R&B tunes that don't get played on the radio anymore, like the Flares' "Foot Stompin'," the Five Du-Tones' "Shake a Tail Feather," and a couple of the most ridiculous dance tunes ever waxed (Gene and Wendell's "The Roach," Jerry Dallman's "The Bug"). Also included is Toussaint McCall's soulful ballad "Nothing Takes the Place of You," and Little Peggy March's pricelessly silly "I Wish I Were a Princess." Ray Bryant Combo's "The Madison Time" and Rachel Sweet's performance of the movie's theme are a bit incongruous in this company, but as these are the first two tracks on the album, those who are treating this as an oldies collection can easily avoid them. ~ Richie Unterberger

Product Details

Release Date
New Line Home Video
MPAA Rating
PG -- Parental guidance suggested
1 hour, 32 minutes
  • Dolby Digital w/ sub-woofer channel
  • Dolby Digital Surround
  • USA & territories, Canada
  • English
Video Features
  • ccWidescreen version of the film
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Ricki Lake joins John Waters for commentary
Number of Discs

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