starring Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah
screenplay by Leslie Dixon
directed by Adam Shankman
by Walter Chaw It's pretty easy to take the neo-hipster stance of having been there when Divine ate dog shit and, because of status conferred by said endurance of John Waters at his most insouciantly "fuck you," to denounce the Broadway-ification of his already-mainstream-courting Hairspray--now turned into a movie based on a musical based on the original movie--as "Waters-lite." Except that Waters's satire at its best has always been a gloss on cults of pop (this is a guy who made an iconic cameo on "The Simpsons", for God's sake)--and after Polyester, all of his movies run like book for the plastic-fantastic of the Great White Way anyway. Artificiality is actually the point, affectedness another; like Italian, the only way to speak the language is to exaggerate past the point of embarrassment. Still, the key to Waters is the requirement that by assembling a collection of misfits to play his assembly of misfits, not a one of them takes to their duty ironically. Waters is the same kind of archivist as Quentin Tarantino in that way: the casting can be interpreted as a post-modern joke, but the performances need to be true to the essential nostalgia driving the casting. John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, in other words, needed very much to play it as straight as John Travolta is capable of playing it.