Saturday, July 21, 2007
God I love John Waters' original Hairspray movie. I'm a huge fan of all his pictures, but Hairspray is something special. Having grown up in Baltimore in the 1960's, I well remember The Buddy Dean Show, which is represented in Hairspray as The Corny Collins Show. I recall the hysteria and the way that families watched the show with fascinated obsession. Waters captures it perfectly, and his comic eye was never more shrewd or on target.
A big theme in Hairspray is racism and integration of blacks into what was considered an all-white television show. But Waters never gets preachy in it. His points are brought home with affectionate wit, which can be more effective than a sledgehammer effect.
Remakes abound today and almost everyone is sick of them. Everyone but the short-sighted teenagers that supposedly fill the movie seats. But this new version of Hairspray is not exactly a remake. Hairspray was adapted into a stage musical, which became one of the most beloved and successful in recent memory. The new Hairspray, which hit theaters this weekend, was based on that play. And it makes sense. People seem to love the play and the songs in it, but you can't take a play home. Now we can see it on the silver screen and later own it alongside our copies of the old Hairspray.
It's funny...who could have guessed that John Waters, The Prince of Puke, who made some of the most nauseating and disgusting movies of all time, would make such a cherished family classic as Hairspray? It has become one of the most beloved movies of all time. Some old Waters fans bristled at the notion of their hero doing a movie that everyone and their grandparents could watch and love. I said and continue to say, phooey on that. It would be boring for John Waters, or any other filmmaker, to continue to make the same type of picture over and again. With Hairspray, Waters managed to maintain his integrity and personal vision, while establishing himself as a genuine, marketable film director who enjoys making comedies his own way to this day.