Review of Reviews: I Am Divine

This week I decided to teach y’all some gross movie history. It’s literally Divine.

John Water’s Divine, that is—

No, they're not real, and they're magnificent.
They’re not real, and they’re magnificent.

that unattractive big guy in drag who acted in John Waters’ earlier films, which were bizarre and funny in the most pretentious way. He also is famous for eating dog poop in Pink Flamingos, one of John Waters’ movies.

Moving right along,…he was also the mother in the original Hairspray. (John Travolta took the role in the most recent version.) Sadly in 1988 he suffered a major heart attack and died right before he was going to start a supporting role on the TV show, Married With Children.  Last week, I am Divine, a documentary about the actor’s life, opened nationwide.

Good Morning Baltimore: the original Hairspray
Good Morning Baltimore: the original Hairspray.

For reviews of I Am Divine, I started with Baltimore because John Waters and Divine grew up there, and it’s where most of John Waters’ movies take place.

The review in The Baltimore Sun looked rather long, so I had to work extra hard at the Skim (avoiding the spoilers by skimming through the review). A quarter of the way through the review, my eyes began to ache, halfway through, my faculties started to fade.  When I was done with the review, I was aching all over, sweat was pouring down my face, and I was shaking, I needed water, but I was stuck to the chair.

Why was I in so much agony? Because the review detailed Divine’s life, what he was like and what his friends said about him. If you like knowing absolutely everything in the movie you’re about to see, you’ll be happy with just about any review of this movie.

I looked at reviews in many places—newspapers, magazines, online newspapers and websites, blogs…. my head kept spinning. They were all like school reports (college if there are big words).

The man behind the woman: Mel xxx and John Waters
The men behind the woman: John Waters and Harris Glenn Milstead.

This review of reviews is one that applies across the board to all reviews of I am Divine, and they share the takeaway:

Divine was played by actor Harris Glenn Milstead. When he was not playing Divine, he acted in male roles. 

It is a really interesting, good movie.

This poster makes a great gift–it tells your special someone how much you love him (or her).

If it were playing in Seattle for more than six days, I would go see it. But I guess Seattle can’t take too much Divine goodness. And so I await the DVD release, which looks like it will be soon.

I wonder if this is how all documentaries are reviewed, or whether in this one case, the critics wanted to warn us not to buy anything from the concessions. This is especially helpful given that the documentary simply must show the infamous scene in which Divine eats dog poop.  (No camera tricks. It’s for real.)




female trouble small


hairspray poster


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