- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 22, 2005

It may be John Waters’ only PG-rated movie (and the only one, so far, to be turned into a smash Broadway musical), but 1988’s Hairspray also rates as one of his best and a hilarious highlight of the eight-disc John Waters Collection ($102.98), just in via New Line Home Entertainment. It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

While the Baltimore Bijou Bad Boy eschews his customary gross-out tableaux in his debut crossover effort, “Hairspray” succeeds as a lively, satiric and subversive send-up of the early ‘60s teen scene and the beehived “hairhoppers” who populated same.

Ricki Lake stars as Tracy Turnblad, a fat and proud girl who dances her way into the hearts of thousands on “The Corny Collins Show,” a low-budget Baltimore version of Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand.”

Conflict ensues when Tracy’s sudden popularity incurs the wrath of slender blonde rival Amber Von Tussle (Colleen Fitzpatrick) and her scheming parents (Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono). Tracy not only triumphs but, with a little help from deejay Motormouth Maybell (ably interpreted by R&B singer Ruth Brown), uses her celebrity status to further the cause of integration.

In addition to the off-the-wall comedy, “Hairspray” offers an uptempo array of choice period rock tunes. The late Divine is in fine form in dual roles, while the always welcome Pia Zadora contributes a neat cameo as a raven-haired beatnik, and Mr. Waters himself turns up as a hypnotism-happy shrink. An audio commentary by the auteur and Miss Lake, plus the original theatrical trailer, comprise the extras.

New Line’s gala set includes a quartet of Mr. Waters’ earlier, ruder romps — Pink Flamingos (1972), Female Trouble (1974), Desperate Living (1977) and Polyester (1981) — two newer works, Pecker (1998) and A Dirty Shame (2004), and the bonus disc John Waters DVD Scrapbook — more than enough for a wild Waters weekend.

Tele-video

On the busy TV-on-DVD front, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment also concentrates on comedy with the three-disc, 25-episode The King of Queens: 4th Season ($39.95), starring Kevin James, and a pair of supernatural sitcoms: Elizabeth Montgomery, Dick York and Agnes Moorehead in the four-disc, 36-episode Bewitched: The Complete First Season ($39.95) and the 12-episode second-generation sequel Tabitha: The Entire Series (two-disc, $29.95).

Paramount Home Entertainment delivers edgier laughs courtesy of the hapless cops of Reno 911! — The Complete Second Season (three-disc, $38.99), with over two hours of bonus material, from commentaries to outtakes.

Warner Home Video sets its sights on superheroes (and heroines) with the 21-episode, six-disc Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman: The Complete First Season ($59.98) and Lynda Carter in the four-disc, 24-episode Wonder Woman: The Complete Third Season ($39.98), both flying into vidstores armed with copious extras.

Crime and punishment serve as the subjects of two otherwise diverse series, with the 23-episode Chuck Norris showcase Walker, Texas Ranger: The Final Season (Paramount, six-disc, $49.99) focusing on the former and the eight-episode Oz: The Complete Fifth Season (HBO Video, three-disc, $64.98) emphasizing the latter.

MGM Home Entertainment explores sci-fi horizons with the six-disc, 24-episode The Outer Limits: The New Series ($69.96), compete with behind-the-scenes documentaries.

The ‘A’ list

Among recent theatrical films joining the digital ranks, John Corbett, Amy Smart and Sean Astin star in the community theater-set romantic comedy Bigger Than the Sky (MGM Home Entertainment, $26.98), Samuel L. Jackson assumes the eponymous role in Paramount Home Entertainment’s bonus-packed edition of the fact-based high school basketball drama Coach Carter ($29.95), and Adrien Brody battles for his sanity in the surreal psychological thriller The Jacket (New Line Home Entertainment, $24.98).

Elsewhere, Miramax Home Entertainment bows a bonus-packed edition of the Bruce Willis action vehicle Hostage, while Dimension Home Video puts out two versions of Wes Craven’s chiller Cursed—the original theatrical film and the bloodier “Unrated Version” ($29.99 each).

Collectors’ corner

Kino Video (kino.com) spotlights iconic American ex-pat superstar Josephine Baker in three vintage French showcases — 1935’s Princess Tam Tam, the 1927 silent Siren of the Tropics and 1934’s Zou Zou ($29.95 each), all accompanied by both new and backdate bonus material.

Video verite

In documentary developments, Docurama delivers the four-disc Edward R. Murrow Collection ($59.95), chronicling the TV commentator’s pioneering career, while A&E Home Video strikes a musical note with the bonus-packed concert film Paul McCartney in Red Square ($24.95).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Can’t seem to find the original 1950s War of the Worlds on DVD.

J. Braden, via e-mail

Oddly, the no-frills 2003 DVD release, via Paramount, is currently out of print, though the VHS is available ($9.99) from Movies Unlimited (moviesunlimited.com). A special edition disc likely looms in the near future.

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or e-mail us at phanmedia@aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.


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