Director: John Waters
Screenwriters: John Waters

Institute History

  • 1988 Sundance Film Festival


John Waters’ eleventh film, Hairspray, is a wildly eccentric, music-filled social comedy about dance-crazed teenagers and the integration of Baltimore (“The Hairdo Capitol of the World”) in 1962. It’s a set designer’s wetdream, a cornucopia of kitch, a garage sale that wouldn’t die.

The plot defies logic. It revolves at warp speed around the exploits of Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake) to find a place on the ultra cool television dance program “The Corny Collins Show” and, once a member of its lily-white brat pack, to integrate it and,m for that matter, all of Baltimore. Pandemonium ensues. Besides her own mother (Waters’ regular, Divine), Tracy encounters a flock of odd ducks, including Velma von Tussle (Debbie Harry), Franklin von Tussle (Sonny Bono), a demented psychiatrist (director John Waters), and a beatnik (Pia Zadora, in a particularly inspired moment of casting).

— Tony Safford

Screening Details

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