Watch Polyester

"It’s Scentsational!"
  • R
  • 1981
  • 1 hr 26 min
  • 7.0  (8,909)
  • 72

Polyester is a 1981 American comedy film directed by John Waters and starring Divine, Tab Hunter, and Edith Massey. Set in suburban Baltimore, the film tells the story of Francine Fishpaw (Divine), a housewife living a miserable life with her husband Elmer (David Samson) and her two rotten children, Dexter (Ken King) and Lulu (Mary Garlington).

Francine's life is turned upside down when she discovers that Elmer is having an affair with his secretary, Sandra Sullivan (Mink Stole). To make matters worse, her mother (Massey) is an alcoholic and her son is a foot fetishist who hangs around with a gang of delinquents. Desperate for a change, Francine turns to her handsome and mysterious new neighbor, Todd Tomorrow (Hunter), for comfort and support.

The film is a satirical take on the typical suburban soap opera, poking fun at the conventions of the genre through its exaggerated characters and absurd situations. Despite its outrageous humor, however, Polyester offers a compassionate and insightful look at the struggles of a woman trapped in a loveless marriage and a claustrophobic community.

Polyester is perhaps best known for its use of "Odorama", a gimmick in which viewers were given scratch-and-sniff cards that corresponded to certain smells in the film, such as glue, gasoline, and pizza. This added an extra layer of sensory experience to the movie, making it a true cult classic and a testament to John Waters' ability to push the boundaries of cinema.

The film boasts strong performances from its cast, with Divine in particular shining as Francine Fishpaw. Divine was a frequent collaborator of John Waters', and his over-the-top performance as the put-upon housewife adds a layer of pathos to the outrageous comedy. Tab Hunter, in his first collaboration with Waters, brings a subtle charm to his role as Todd Tomorrow, the enigmatic suitor who offers Francine a way out of her misery.

Edith Massey, a regular in Waters' films, steals scenes as Francine's alcoholic mother, while Mink Stole brings a cold and calculated energy to her role as the homewrecker Sandra Sullivan. The supporting cast, including Ken King and Mary Garlington as Francine's misbehaving children, and Susan Lowe as Francine's nosy neighbor Cuddles Kovinsky, also contribute to the film's off-kilter universe.

With its mix of outrageously funny moments and humanizing depictions of suburban malaise, Polyester is a quintessential John Waters film. It is a wild ride that manages to be both hilarious and heartwarming, and it remains a classic of cult cinema to this day.

Polyester is a 1981 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 26 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.0 and a MetaScore of 72.

Where to Watch Polyester
Polyester is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Polyester for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 26 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.0  (8,909)
  • Metascore