Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1988. New Line Cinema, Stanley F. Buchthal, Robert Shaye Production. Screenplay by John Waters. Cinematography by David Insley. Produced by Rachel Talalay. Music by Kenny Vance. Production Design by Vincent Peranio. Costume Design by Van Smith. Film Editing by Janice Hampton.
John Waters’ most popular film is also one of his most thoughtful and entertaining. Ricki Lake is awkwardly adorable as a music-obsessed teenager whose stout physicality and highly teased hair make her something of an oddball among her teen friends in 1960s Baltimore. Her mother (300 pound cross-dressing Divine) and father (Jerry Stiller) try to keep her in line but Lake is obsessed with dancing, and when the opportunity comes to audition for the local music show, she goes for it and gets on there. Pretty soon she is changing the status quo as skinny, blond Colleen Fitzpatrick and her mother (a hilariously bitchy Deborah Harry) do everything in their power to get our heroine rejected; after all, no one should be different and proud of it. At the same time, the winds of change are in the air as the whites-only Corny Collins show that Lake dances on begins to chime the sounds of integration, which our protagonist is all for but her rivals are against. It’s a delightful, candy-coloured romp that has one of the most kickass soundtracks of any film that takes place during the era; it’s no wonder that the composers who created the marvelous musical adaptation fourteen years later pressured themselves to come up with as good as score as possible.