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Hairspray (1988) - Blu-ray Review

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hairspray

Musical?  Who needs a musical?  We only need the music and a floor to dance upon!

The 1960s are alive and well in the capable hands of John WatersHairspray hasn’t aged a day since its initial release in 1988 and that, my fellow film freaks and geeks, is some damn good news.

"The bottom line is that Hairspray, written and directed by John Waters, is a total gas!"


 

Based on writer/director John Waters’ 1985 own short story “Ladies and Gentlemen… The Nicest Kids in Town!,” which appeared in his book Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters, Hairspray is still a wise-cracking kick in the seat of the pants.  Granted, those pants might be tight drainpipe jeans but that kick, as one overweight teen takes to television to twist the night away and fight segregation, still bucks hard and deservedly so.

I mean, in what other comedy could you have the talents of Sonny Bono, Debbie Harry, Divine (in his final film role before his untimely death), and Jerry Stiller as parents to both Rikki Lake and Colleen Fitzpatrick?  Plus, seeing Pia Zadora and Ric Ocasek as lunatic beatniks is pretty damn funny.  Also on board with this zany concept is Josh Charles as a teenage regular on a popular dance show AND Waters himself as a shrink desperately in need of medication.

The bottom line is that Hairspray, written and directed by John Waters, is a total gas!  Get ready for bright, swirling colors and hairdos that defy gravity as teenagers lose their mind to the dance numbers being played on The Corny Collins Show.  It’s what they rush home to watch every day after school and, if left alone by their square parents, they jump up and dance along at home to the contestants on the television show.  

It’s American Bandstand all over again!  Except, as Waters puts it in his short story, the idea of Corny Collins was based on Baltimore’s own The Buddy Deane Show, which he was obsessed with as a teenager.  So why not make his lead character, Tracy Turnblad (played by Rikki Lake in her first role ever), a fellow devotee of the same type of program?  It makes perfect sense and, with solid moves that earn her special notice when it comes to dancing the Madison, the Twist, and the Mashed Potato, she quickly rises to the top when she finally gets the opportunity to be on the program itself and catches the eye of Link Larkin (Michael St. Gerard).hairspray

But, with 1962 Baltimore as a backdrop, race relations soon come knocking as the kiddos learn new moves from Motormouth Maybelle (singer Ruth Brown) and want to integrate The Corny Collins Show.  Will they get their wish?  Not without a lot of tongue wagging, a lot of sweet moves on the dance floor, and a night in jail.

Hairspray. full of great and memorable characters and Waters’ own eye for flair, is now available on blu-ray thanks to Warner Bros.  Get this one, Ghouls and Boils, skip the musical.

1/5 stars

hairspray

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: New Line Cinema
Available on Blu-ray
- March 3, 2020
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; German: Dolby Digital 2.0; Italian: Dolby Digital 2.0; Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono; Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

It's Baltimore, 1962, and a rebellious “pleasantly plump” teenager with the biggest bouffant on the block, Tracy (Daytime Emmy Award-nominee Ricki Lake - "Serial Mom," TV's "The Ricki Lake Show") attempts to be one of the featured stars on a popular dance show and win the coveted "Miss Auto Show" crown as she fights against racial discrimination in this film written and directed by John Waters ("Cry Baby," "Serial Mom") in an ode to the dance craze of the 60’s. Featuring Divine ("Polyester," "Pink Flamingos") in his/her last gender-bending role as Tracy’s mother. Also starring Emmy-nominee Sonny Bono (“The Sonny and Cher Comedy hour”), Emmy-nominee Jerry Stiller ("Zoolander," TV's "Seinfeld"), and Deborah Harry of the legendary rock band Blondie.

Video:

This is a beautiful looking transfer of a wickedly fresh production that is full of bright colors and even brighter (and bigger) hairdos.  The lines are strong throughout and the crispness of the print absolutely crackles as soundstages come to life and cities, too.  The fabrics in the costumes are pristine and full of vibrancy.  There’s not a blemish in this 1080p presentation.

Audio: 

A robust lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack provides the dialogue and the endless amount of classic R&B numbers.  This soundtrack is killer, so plan on turning it up and twisting along in your own living room.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Ported over from the DVD release is the original commentary with John Waters and Rikki Lake.  While recorded separately, their comments have been seamlessly edited together to make for a cohesive listening experience.

Special Features:

Warner Bros dishes out a bonus heaping of supplemental items on this release.  Fans of Waters get audio interviews he did with Divine about relationships with celebrities and so on.  There are also local interviews with Waters, thoughts on the delicious production design, Producer Rachel Talaly weighs in, original EPKs, interviews with dancers from The Buddy Deane Show, a look back at Divine, and lots of other cool stuff that the kids are going to really love.

  • Vincent Peranio: Hairspray's Production Design
  • Rachel Talalay: Producing Hairspray 
  • Original Hairspray Featurette
  • Two of the Original Buddy Deaners: Linda and Gene Snyder 
  • Dennis Dermody, Sue Lowe and Brook Yeaton: Divine In Memoriam 
  • Sue Lowe, Peter Koper and Dennis Dermody: A Portrait of Cookie Mueller 
  • Bob Adams on the Dreamlanders: Close Circle of Friends
  • Dennis Dermody: Seasons Greetings, Love John . . . 
  • Rikki Lake: A Hairspray Reunion

Audio: 

  • Elton John (4:54)
  • Grass + Murder (5:24)
  • LSD (0:19)
  • Punks (0:47)
  • Foreign Travel (0:36)
  • Strengths (1:34)
  • On Being Divine (1:20)
  • Showbiz (1:50)
  • Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

3.5/5 stars

Hairspray

MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime:
92 mins
Director
: John Waters
Writer:
John Waters
Cast:
Sonny Bono, Ruth Brown, Divine
Genre
: Comedy | Drama
Tagline:
A comedy by John Waters.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Mama, welcome to the sixties."
Theatrical Distributor:
New Line CInema
Official Site:
Release Date:
February 26, 1988
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 4, 2014.
Synopsis: A 'pleasantly plump' teenager teaches 1962 Baltimore a thing or two about integration after landing a spot on a local TV dance show.

Hairspray

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