Least essential 'Special Edition' release....but fun!
J. Collins | 12/04/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Of the three John Waters "Special Edition" releases, this is the only one that duplicates previous DVD releases...and thus it's the one collectors may opt to refuse. (...) The bonuses in this package aren't must-haves, though any film commentary with John Waters is a delight.I guess some reviewers have a valid point about the mainstreaming of Waters' films...and these two films are case(s?) in point. But consider the limitations placed on the writer/director as his core cast was fragmented and the cost of filming movies soared skyward. In both "Hairspray" and "Pecker" I see minor concessions to the bland tastes of Popular culture, but nary a cop-out. (...) the subversive edge of Waters' often brilliant writing/direction is an ongoing exercise in (good) bad taste. If nothing else, his characters never do what you expect of them, quite a virtue in a film world besotted with "accessible" characterization.Despite some brilliant moments, "Hairspray" is a bit cloying on the whole. This, in my opinion, is largely due to Ricki Lake in the lead role. Despite the usual outrageous Waters' dialogue, Lake delivers her lines with such sweetness and reverance that you just want to backhand her. To her credit, she furthers the old saw about fat girls being good dancers."Hairspray" is also a bit overlong with dance sequences, though they certainly lend a touch of authenticity to the production. The central story is roughly linear, though the bit with Tracy in reform school seems like a delaying tactic...especially since Waters' used a similar story device in "Cry Baby". On the plus side, the supporting cast is rich with freakish appeal. Divine's last role for Waters isn't flashy, but his Edna Turnblad is a credible, nuanced piece of work. Longtime cast member Mink Stole gets lots of screen time in a fairly minor role. Lots of silly and/or hysterical cameos: Pia Zadora, Ric Ocasek, Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono and a few more. The youth leads (mostly unknowns) are right on target...thoroughly believable in their parts. Overall, "Hairspray" is probably the most accessible of Waters' latter-day films (...)."Pecker" is a good choice to complement "Hairspray" in this edition. Both films have youthful leads, and both deal (directly or indirectly) with social issues such as race and class. The appeal of these films is also a bit gentler and good-humored than some of Waters' recent offerings. "Pecker" might take a while to sink in with old-time fans, as it did with me. I don't know if it's because there are other writers and directors actively pursuing the raunch genre that Waters' pioneered, or because "Pecker" has such simple charms.I grudge the obligatory star power of Lili Taylor and Indie Waif Christina Ricci, low-wattage that it may be. Otherwise, the casting and performances in "Pecker" are on target. Mary Kay Place is fretful and yet blissfully sedate as the thrift store maven; a role that seems an appropriate homage to Waters' long time friend and star, Edith Massey. Martha Plimpton plays the ultimate fag hag ("My life is trade!") with dizzy abandon. Ed Furlong's Pecker (um, keep reading) is the most functional idiot savant imagineable...a tireless servant to the "art" all around, and completely oblivious to social norms and responsibilities.Despite a feel-good ending that smooths over a fair number of conflicts, "Pecker" is a funny and satisfying film. The rabid idiosyncrasies of Waters' characters play off each other with the kind of manic glee you can find in "Pink Flamingos" or even "Polyester." The 'turnabout' plot actually works, if you take a good look at some of Pecks' pics from his NYC premiere. (...) Fans who already own "Pecker" on DVD may opt to wait for a single disc release for "Hairspray." Considering how infrequently some of his films have been available on home video, I'm pretty sure longtime fans like myself will snap this collection up on sight. Recommended.J"
The Two "HAPPY" Movies Of The John Waters' Collection
Michael B. | Idaho | 03/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Hairspray" and "Pecker" are the tamest in the John Waters' collection. They are very enjoyable, even though they don't have the shock value that Waters earlier films had. I still absolutely adore both of these films and I'm thrilled that they are together on DVD. "Hairspray" is the last Waters' film that the late Divine appeared in. It showed the potential that Divine had in regards to his acting abilities. The movie is just flat-out fun, I would recommend it to anybody."Pecker" is one of John Waters recent films that I thoroughly enjoy. Its a ahppy little story that just floats along on screen, its really a pleasure to watch."
Two fine films but why the piggy-back package?
R. Riis | NY | 05/26/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What's going on here? "Pecker", already available by itself on DVD, is tagging along with the much-anticipated release of "Hairspray" in a 2-disc package...That gripe aside, these are two of John Waters' best films and a not-incompatible pairing. "Pecker" is a fairly sweet-natured portrait of a photographer who lives through his pictures, and because this is a John Waters film, his hobby takes him to strip clubs, etc. It's a good film and somewhat unjustly ignored. "Hairspray", however, is a riot : an affectionate look at teen life, pop music, race, etc., in 1963 Baltimore. Every performance is perfect, especially Divine in his most toned-down and tender role. Pop fans will enjoy spotting a teenaged Colleen Fitzpatrick (known today as pop star Vitamin C) as Amber, Rikki Lake's character's arch-nemesis. The best feature of these DVDs is John Waters' commentary track for each film. Revealing and funny! The price of this package is roughly the price of a single DVD..."
FULL OF GRACE! FULL OF GRACE!
S. Kelly | Marietta, GA USA | 01/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think these two movies are a must have for any Divine or John Waters fan.Even if they are pretty commercial and not as original as "Female Trouble" or "Mutiple Maniacs"(hopefully the latter of the two will be on DVD soon)they are wonderful example of wonderfully talented and sometimes shocking director.The cast in "Hairspray" are great including Debbie Harry,Sonny Bono,Ricki Lake and of corse,DIVINE!! "Pecker" has its moments and will grow on you as any true John Waters will.If you have never seen a Water's flick,this is a good place to start."