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John Waters's 1988 musical comedy set in 1962 Baltimore represented a good many firsts for the celebrated underground “bad taste” writer-director-producer: his biggest budget, his first period foray, his first PG-rated movie, and his first real brush with politics—the issue of integrating a local TV dance show in Baltimore during the height of the civil rights movement. The cast includes Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono, Divine (in a dual role), Jerry Stiller, Ruth Brown, and cameo appearances by Ric Ocasek and Pia Zadora as beatniks. Not only Waters's best movie, but a crossover gesture that expands his appeal without compromising his vision one iota; Ricki Lake as the hefty young heroine is especially delightful. With many arcane dance steps and hit singles from the period. 96 min.

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