Polyester | Chicago Reader

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86 minutes

John Waters tried to parlay his shrewdly developed media image as the master of bad taste into mass-market success with this 1981 parody of the suburban melodrama of the 1950s, but the transition from underground to aboveground took its toll: this is a rather tame exercise, even with the nasal affront originally provided by Waters's “Odorama.” Waters shot in 35-millimeter here for the first time and got a more polished performance than usual from his perennial star, Divine, but the heightened professionalism doesn't serve Waters's slapdash, sophomoric wit all that well: the film is too slick and knowing for its own anarchic good. Tab Hunter joins the Waters regulars and pitches in, wholeheartedly, with their enthusiastic overacting; he's really not bad, which tends to spoil the nasty joke of the casting.

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