Given his fondness for unrestrained envelope pushing, including one of the most graphic films ever to receive wide release (1973's Pink Flamingos), Hairspray seems like a real departure for John Waters, in content if not sensibility. Even with its PG rating and overarching cheeriness, it's still not for everyone -- and Waters wouldn't have it any other way. Future talk-show mainstay Ricki Lake has Waters to thank for her breakthrough into popular awareness, and has rewarded him with several collaborations even after achieving large-scale success. In her first prominent role, she embodies the grinning damn-it-all mentality of her director, achieving fantasy-level acceptance despite her ample proportions. In empowering several disenfranchised groups, including fat girls (Lake), drag queens (Divine, in his last film appearance), and African-Americans (segregated on a popular music show in the film), Waters gleefully snubs his nose at the natural order of things, preferring to imagine a world where their ascension would be unfettered by prejudice. The cast seems to be having a terrific time, even if the material is sometimes too giddy for its own good. Fans of glorious kitsch -- the only audience Waters is concerned with impressing -- will no doubt consider Hairspray a fond favorite. Others may find it more of a whimsical curiosity than an effective social satire, but one gets the impression that the iconoclastic style-over-substance director might agree with them, too.