So I saw Hairspray. The original 1988 version starring Rikki Lake, Michael St. Gerald and Divine. You know, the one that started a phenomenon, spawning a hit Broadway musical, a remake and a nation scrambling for more hairspray. There is a reason for that, Hairspray is so much more than what you see on the surface. It wants to address several issues at once, create conversation while also filling your screen with elaborate dance numbers and girls with gigantic hair.
Tracy Turnblad (Rikki Lake) dreams of one day auditioning for her favorite show, a teen dance show with only the hippest and coolest teens around. When she gets her chance, she absolutely nails it. But in doing so she angers some of the other girls, since she a plus sized girl who really knows how to dance. With the help of her new boyfriend Link (Michael St. Gerald), her best friend Penny (Leslie Ann Powers) and her loving parents, she can change her small town into a rockin 60’s paradise, made for dancing!
The acting in this is also incredible. Rikki Lake is so bubbly and energetic that it melts into the rest of the cast. Michael St. Gerald has this charisma to him that makes him so good as a man who sees Tracy as the beautiful woman she is. Leslie Ann Powers is so innocent as Penny, but finds who she is with dance and equality. However, what I really went out of my way for is Divine as Edna Turnblad. Divine is…well, divine. She controls the screen and easily has the most energy of the cast. John Travolta would try to capture that same energy in the remake, but no one can match Divine.
So, who could enjoy this film? Basically everything, except for the younger demographic. The tone of the film might be one of optimism and the will to reach your goals, but with a scene featuring people wanting to get high and naked (they don’t actually, though it wouldn’t be too left field for Waters) if you have a child under 10 then it might just go over their heads. However, the film is just so enjoyable and fun to watch that those who have not seen it should absolutely give it a try. I had some of the numbers stuck in my head for days after, and the dance numbers are so well shot and performed that you couldn’t look away if you tried. Once it’s over you just want to grab a can of hairspray.