I absolutely love the musical version of Hairspray that came out a few years ago, so I was really excited to watch the original 80’s film. It definitely lived up to my expectations and even helped me see the inspiration for the musical as some of the same lines were used. It was great to see how phrases that the characters said in the 80’s where transformed into full-blown songs for the musical.
Hairspray, set in 1962 baltimore, is a film about the shift of society into integration, centered around Tracy Turnblad, a “pleasantly plump” teenage girl, who loves to dance. She and her best friend, Penny Pinglton, who has an overly conservative and racist mother, decide to audition for the Corny Collins show, despite the negativity of amber Von Tussel, the snobbish blond, who wants to be the star of the program and Miss Auto Show 1963. Tracy makes it onto the show, to the delight of her parents and Penny. However, she faces other challenges, such as being placed in the special-ed class after being sent to the principal’s office for her hair being to high. Tracy and Penny become friends with the Seaweed, the son of Motormouth Maybelle, who hosts Negro Day on the Corny Collins show. Along with Link, Tracy’s steady boyfriend, the group fights for integration while Penny becomes a checkerboard chick through her relationship with Seaweed. Amber takes the crown as Miss Auto show 1962 after Tracy is locked up after a race riot occurs, unable to accept the award, which is rightfully hers. However, Tracy is quickly pardoned before the end of the show and runs to take her place as the rightful Miss Auto show, wearing a roach-inspired dress and sporting newly straightened hair, representative of her transition into the 1960’s and her forward thinking as an integrationist. Amber and her devious mother are humiliated during the show after a bomb hidden in the mother’s mile-high hairdo backfires. The film ends with the jubilant moves of an integrated dance on the show.
I was really impressed with Hairspray and almost sad that I had never seen it before. It’s an hour and a half of hair-raising fun that will most likely have you up and dancing to classic tunes, while also reflecting on the oppression that segregation placed on our nation in the past. I would highly recommend this family-friendly film to anyone looking for a laugh-filled and upbeat movie.