The Big Tease

SHADOWS MUST SEE MUST-SEE


Determined to get into the World Championships, Scottish hairstyling sensation Crawford MacKenzie (Ferguson) confers with his agent (Fisher) and the competition organiser (McCormack)...
dir Kevin Allen
scr Craig Ferguson, Sacha Gervasi
with Craig Ferguson, Frances Fisher, Mary McCormack, David Rache, Chris Langham, Donal Logue, Charles Napier, Sarah Gilbert, Larry Miller, Kevin Allen, Drew Carey, David Hasselhoff
Warners 99/UK-US 5 out of 5 stars

With a wacky storyline and a very warm heart (mercifully undercut with irony and sarcasm), The Big Tease is a hilarious and thoroughly entertaining romp through the cut-throat world of hairdressing. Surprisingly, it's from the maker of 1997's dire Twin Town, the Welsh Trainspotting wannabe notable only for introducing us to Dougray Scott and Rhys Ifans. Well, Kevin Allen introduces another welcome big screen presence here...

Actor-cowriter Craig Ferguson stars as Glasgow's top hairstylist Crawford MacKenzie, unable to hide his joy at being invited to the World Freestyle Hairdressing Championships in L.A. But on arrival, the competition organiser (McCormack) tells him there's been a misunderstanding. He's been invited to attend, not compete against his idol, the vicious champ Stig Ludwiggssen (Rache). But Crawford won't take this news lying down, and with the help of an ambitious agent (Fisher), a helpful limo driver (Logue) and a filthy rich senator (Napier), he's sure he can get into the competition. All the while, a BBC director (Langham) is filming a documentary about his adventure.

Ferguson is such a terrifically energetic presence that he keeps the audience laughing--and caring for him--from the opening scene. The clever structure (it's all raw documentary footage) gives the film a very funny, knowing feel, allowing it to poke fun at everything (most notably Brit-Yank relations) through a series of outrageously hysterical set pieces. But it's the vivid characters that make the film work, from the spoiled stars to the clueless hangers on. Each is brought to life so well that even with the occasional foray into absurd humour the characters remain firmly rooted in our affections. There are star cameos galore--both "as themselves" appearances and goofy characterisations. And everything about the film (acting, writing, directing) gleefully twists cliches and expectations to maximum comic effect. A real gem.

[15--adult themes, strong language] 6.Aug.99
US release 28.Jan.00; UK release 4.Feb.00

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1999 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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