Want to See
Not Interested
Rate it ½ star
Rate it 1 star
Rate it 1½ stars
Rate it 2 stars
Rate it 2½ stars
Rate it 3 stars
Rate it 3½ stars
Rate it 4 stars
Rate it 4½ stars
Rate it 5 stars
Forever interested in the kitsch built into past eras, director John Waters chooses the TV dance show craze of the early '60s for his playful focus in Hairspray. Ricki Lake plays Tracy Turnblad, just one of several alliteratively named characters coming of age in 1962 Baltimore, where "The Corny Collins Show" is the most popular American Bandstand-type program, watched by hundreds of young dreamers each day after school. Being chosen to dance on it is the ultimate status symbol and every young girl's dream, and Tracy improbably wins a featured spot when she infiltrates a… More

Available Online

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"When Divine's Edna Turnblad is on-screen in the sleeveless dresses she's partial to, the movie has something like the lunacy of a W. C. Fields in drag."
‑ Pauline Kael, New Yorker
"The actors are best when they avoid exaggeration and remain weirdly sincere. That way, they do nothing to break the vibrant, even hallucinogenic spell of Mr. Waters's nostalgia."
‑ Janet Maslin, New York Times
"While it's corny by design, Hairspray also aims to get at something truthful, about the various kinds of prejudice [...] and how youthful optimism and music made a difference [...]."
‑ Noel Murray, The Dissolve
"The Waters film for your grandma, who will probably be only a little bit freaked out by it."
‑ Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"Has a great message is endlessly entertaining, and come on you have to love Motormouth Maybelle..."
‑ Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed
"Not only Waters's best movie, but a crossover gesture that expands his appeal without compromising his vision one iota; Ricki Lake as the hefty young heroine is especially delightful."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"The movie is a bubble-headed series of teenage crises and crushes, alternating with historically accurate choreography of such forgotten dances as the Madison and the Roach."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"A kitschy teen fantasy you can dance to."
‑ Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
"Thoroughly deserving of its cult status."
‑ Kim Newman, Empire Magazine
"One of John Waters' best films, and also one that was "palatable" to the strudios and accessible to the mass public in its charming theme and effective blend of faded stars and offbeat celebs."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"Waters' most hygienically commercial film is a Retro schlock-fancier's delight."
‑ Derek Adams, Time Out
"Waters writes warmth into his caricatures, lifting Hairspray above cartoon cult."
‑ Desson Thomson, Washington Post
"The shock Waters's cinema offers, then, is not transcendent, but almost reflexive, implicating the viewer in the awkward complexities of his own humanity and forcing him to either celebrate it or run screaming away."
‑ Leo Goldsmith, Reverse Shot
"Controversial filmmaker John Waters finally hits his commercial stride in this film, parlaying his keen social observation and great compassion for society's outsiders into a colorful and engaging comedy full of dancing, music and heartfelt nostalgia."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"Fun, fun, fun."
‑ Cole Smithey,
More reviews for Hairspray on Rotten Tomatoes

More Like This

Hairspray (2007)
Grease (1978)
Cry-Baby (1990)