Overall Impression — Infectious fun that compensates for a certain lightness of story.


Who’s the main character? — Tracy Turnblad.

What’s she trying to accomplish? — She’s trying to fall in love with Link, get the Corny Collins show integrated, and win the Miss Teenage Hairspray competition.

Who’s trying to stop her? — Station manager Velma Von Tussle.

What happens if she fails? — The black kids are relegated to only performing once a month on television and she loses the one boy who could love her for who she is.


Orphan — Tracy is an outcast in school, ridiculed by all except her best friend.

Wanderer — Tracy learns some new dances, meets the black kids at school, and eventually makes it onto the Corny Collins Show.

Warrior — Now a celebrity, Tracy starts championing the cause of integration, while also having caught Link’s eye.

Martyr — She’s willing to give it all up in order to give the black kids a chance to dance on a live broadcast.  By doing this she might lose the competition, Link, and her own spot on the show.  She doesn’t care, and even though she loses the competition (to a very worthy kid), she wins Link (and he wins her by doing the right thing.)


Tracy is classic traveling angel.  A real Pollyanna who only sees the positive aspects of life, she has a positive effect on everyone’s life; her mom, her best friend, the black kids, and ultimately herself.

The film works well on many levels, and my niggling complaint is that the dramatic turns are very surface.  Then again, nobody was trying to make CITIZEN KANE.  I’ll shut up now.  It’s a fun movie,  structurally sound, that’s so good we don’t care that Tracy actually ISN’T the best dancer on the floor or that her mom looks like that guy from GREASE.

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