The main attraction on the second disc in the Mavis Davis bundle* was Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985), which stars SJP and Helen Hunt as two (twenty-something) Catholic schoolgirls desperate to audition for a local televised dance show imaginatively titled “Dance TV”. Shannen Doherty also appears in a supporting role, as the precocious little sister of SJP’s blue-collar dance-partner and quasi-“bad boy” love interest. The film can’t help but suffer in comparison to the original Hairspray (1988), which hit all the same story beats, while also weaving in some trademark John Waters weirdness and satirical broadsides against segregation and prejudice. Tracy Turnblad may have started out with nothing more than a narcissistic desire to appear on TV, but ultimately she became a crusading heroine for equality and interracial lovin’, with far more on her mind than the Madison! Still, GJWTHF is pretty enjoyable as inoffensive, ephemeral fluff. SJP has an annoying tendency to overact on occasion here, but there are frequent flashes of the charisma and comic potential that would serve her so well in later life… and she looks pretty great in skin-tight lycra too, so that definitely helps take the curse off. Hunt is firing on all cylinders as SJP’s feisty BFF, so it’s a shame that her character gets sidelined once the romance plot kicks in… and she’s even denied a decent payoff by a rushed finale which (SPOILER!) suggests that she got a gig as a co-presenter on Dance TV, but doesn’t actually show her saying anything to camera. All she does is come on and wave a bit, before taking a bow along with SJP and her blokey.
Come to think of it, you might find this flick offensive, if you happen to have a mohawk and tattoos, because it features some fairly gratuitous anti-punk propaganda. To set the scene, SJP’s main competition for a spot on Dance TV is a spoiled rich girl named ‘Natalie’. After Natalie snitches to SJP’s strict, conservative parents for sneaking out to practice her dance routines when she should’ve been at home studying, SJP and Hunt resolve to ruin Natalie’s “coming out” party at a fancy country club, by running off hundreds of counterfeit invitations, and handing them out to every punk in town. That scene was actually one of my favourites, since it’s basically just a montage of cute punk chicks (and beefy female body-builders) being handed invitations and nodding gratefully. But their apparently peaceful demeanour is soon discarded, as they descend on the soiree in a locust-like swarm, and immediately smash everything they see in a mindless orgy of destruction… stopping only to dance in perfect formation to a really weak, watered down 80s pop-punk number. Feh!
* For some reason, the people slapping these discs together chose to team this PG-rated girly teen fantasy with an adults-only, soft-core skin flick called All In Good Taste (1983). The covershot features a large photo of Jim Carrey, but do not be fooled! He doesn’t play the “aspiring script writer” mentioned in the back cover blurb, who finds himself reluctantly trawling strip clubs and nudist colonies for material… no, he plays the mute cameraman, who briefly appears in a couple of scenes near the middle of the movie, and then disappears again shortly thereafter. Unless you have an overwhelming urge to see Carrey’s bare buttocks, you’re better off avoiding this sleazy, cheesy, painfully unfunny dreck!