Colorful, perky, unabashedly campy… this is precisely the vibe I expected to get from a well-cut theatrical trailer for Hairspray, the movie musical based on the Broadway musical based on the 1988 John Waters feature – which was noteworthy at the time of its initial release as the Baltimore maestro’s first PG-rated effort. Interestingly, when Waters did return to his lewd-and-crude ways, the pop culture had caught up with him; the sight of male strippers tea-bagging their customers or Tracey Ullman sitting on a coke bottle elicited not a single howl of outrage (though, to be fair, Tracey Ullman eating freshly evacuated dog shit might’ve stirred up a juicy MPAA imbroglio).
I’m doing my best to avoid discussing this latest iteration of Hairspray because I don’t want to acknowledge that its director, Adam Shankman, might’ve made a watchable movie. Actually, going on the trailer (god, I hate to say this), Hairspray really does look like a good deal of fun, some of which is probably owing to Shankman’s choreographer background. Y’know, had Shankman made a concerted effort to, I don’t know, try as a director, maybe he wouldn’t be roundly dissed by anyone who cares about movies; as it stands, this is the first time one of his films appears to have a personality. It might be the collective personality of Waters, composer Marc Shaiman and writers Thomas Meehan, Mark O’Donnell and Leslie Dixon, but it’s there and it kinda leaps out at you. Some of that’s gotta be Shankman.
Don’t take this as an about-face on the man; we won’t know if he’s finally cast off his lowest-common-denominator ways until July 20th. Until then, I’m going to be cautiously optimistic, and that’s mostly based on my affection for Waters.
Aside from the teaser, there’s also a ShoWest montage that might further stoke your anticipation.