John Waters’ appreciation for the tacky side of life is in full flower in Hairspray, a slight but often highly amusing diversion about integration, big girls’ fashions and music-mad teens in 1962 Baltimore.
Ricki Lake, chubette daughter of Divine and Jerry Stiller, overcomes all to become queen of an afternoon teenage dance show, much to the consternation of stuck-up blond Colleen Fitzpatrick, whose parents are Deborah Harry and Sonny Bono.
Divine spits out some choice bon mots while denigrating her daughter’s pastime, but finally rejoicing in her success, takes Lake off for a pricelessly funny visit to Hefty Hideaway, where full-figure girls can shop to their hearts’ content.
Divine, so big he wears a tent-like garment big enough for three ordinary mortals to sleep in, is in otherwise fine form in a dual role. Harry has little to do but act bitchy and sport increasingly towering wigs, while Pia Zadora is virtually unrecognizable as a beatnik chick. All the kids in the predominantly teenage cast are tirelessly enthusiastic.