Despite its many iterations — musical, movie musical, live televised musical — John Waters’ original version of Hairspray, released in 1988, remains the best. Now, I’m a fan of musicals, and I’ll admit the Tony-winning Broadway version is pretty damned solid, with opening number, “Good Morning Baltimore,” being the best of the bunch. I’ll even cut some slack to “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” despite it being almost insipidly cloying.
That said, Waters’ film is just so perfectly bizarre and fun and joyous, with a perfect selection of Cameo Parkway R&B sides soundtracking everything. The plot, if you’ve never seen any of the various iterations, revolves around Baltimore teenager Tracy Turnblad getting on The Corny Collins Show, dancing, then becoming more racially aware, dancing, fighting for integration, and more dancing.
Read the From the Stereo to Your Screen column on Rachel Sweet and Hairspray at Cinepunx. Published 1/10/17
“There’s a very short list of things I miss about the movies of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. For the most part, it was a pretty transitory period for the sort of movies I like. Even given the fact that I was a kid at the time, the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia can only do so much to influence my opinions on the actual quality of things like Best of the Best or Judgment Night.
Still, there was a wonderful trend at the time to include end credits songs which weren’t just a pop single they were trying to flog to the audience as it threw away its empty popcorn containers. I’m talking about the terrible end credits rap songs. There was everything from “Monster Squad Rap” from 1987’s Monster Squad to Partners In Kryme’s “Turtle Power!” in 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to even the likes of “Maniac Cop Rap” from 1990’s Maniac Cop 2.
However, I feel like the pinnacle — or nadir, depending on how you look at it — of this trend came rather early, with “City of Crime,” from 1987’s Dragnet. The film — starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks — was a filmic reworking of the popular 1960s television show, which was itself a reworking of the popular 1950s radio program. It’s very tongue-in-cheek, yet managed to be a fairly faithful homage to the show, which had been running in reruns for years by the time the film came out.”
Read the From the Stereo to Your Screen column on Dan Aykroyd & Tom Hanks and Dragnet at Cinepunx, published 6/13/16