Directed by Adam Shankman
I am a huge fan of John Waters, and his 1988 masterpiece Hairspray is one of my favourite films. So when I heard that there was going to be a remake, I knew that something I loved was going to be defiled. John Waters’ Hairspray is a politically irreverent and subversive music comedy. The new film, in contrast, is bad in so many ways. The politics of the remake were blatant, yet meaningless. It felt like more of a nostalgia film looking at how great the civil rights movement was, without anything to say about today. John Waters’ film is subtle, using a subtext of comparing 60s racism with 80s Reagan-era conservatism. In addition, a really important plot point was changed, so that it was the white characters who suggest the anti-segregation march. This is so condescending (as if black people didn’t know how to march) and really up sums this film.
Another point of inferiority is the music. The original was simpler and more in keeping with the time in which it is set. The new film’s music seems over-produced and, frankly, really lame.
However, that worst part of this film is, without a doubt, John Travolta. Divine, in the original, made the character of Edna Turnblad strong and interesting. In this version, John Travolta is given very little to work with in the script and manages to make things even worse. It is truly hard to watch – so I say don’t.