Blow Dry (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoopy's comments in white: 

This is one odd movie from the official quirky small-town Britain formula. (Same author as The Full Monty)

Imagine if Christopher Guest, Ingmar Bergman, and Disney made a joint project. What would it be like?

  • Chris Guest's contribution - well, he'd have to have some quirky, odd, self-important people who are obsessed with their own reality, but it would have to be a reality that is inherently insignificant to outsiders - dog shows, community theater, and ... say, how about Competitive Hairdressing. No matter that there is no such thing, let's create the 2000 All-England hairdressing championship, let's locate it in the usual quirky small town, let's have the mayor gush when he announces that he obtained the event for his town, let's have all the reporters and townspeople laugh and mutter when they hear the announcement.
  • Ingmar Bergman would have to add several people dying of cancer, and people overcome with tragedy over unspoken past offenses. 
  • Disney would have all kinds of family reconciliations, moral lessons, and happy endings.

There you have it. A tongue-in-cheek portrayal of a silly competition, treated as seriously as if it were the Olympics. Despite the silly premise, there is an undercurrent of very serious issues being faced by very serious people. The local hairdresser's wife ran away with his female model many years ago, abandoning him and her son. Now she has returned to ask him and their son to join her and her lesbian lover as a hairdressing team in the competition. Her objective is to bring them all together. She needs this reconciliation to tie up the loose ends, because she is near the end of her battle with cancer.

The dad won't do it at first, then he softens, then he finally comes back at the end for the triumphal fourth round of the tourney, and leads their team to victory. They treat this competition with the same straight face and the same presentation that would attend the championship game in Hoosiers, or the fight in Rocky, or the race in Chariots of Fire. The hairdressers have a lot of glitz, of course, but all the sporting cliches are brought right over without comment. The dad "used to be the best" hairdresser in the world, but hasn't competed in years, the judges hold up their little 9.9 scores for various haircuts, and the team from Keighley, the town which also hosts the pageant, defeats all the super-power teams from London and elsewhere.

When I read the description of this movie, I thought to myself what you are probably thinking now, "what a crock", and dreaded having to watch it. I was partially wrong. While it does have some serious groaner moments, I have to admit that the film approached the concept with such earnestness that it sucked me in and I enjoyed it for the most part. Where else but the UK would they make a film with such a flimsy premise, its only promise being satire, then eschew the satire for warmth, then hire such great people to act in it and bring honesty into it? Odd stuff. (Alan Rickman, Natasha Richardson, and Rachel Griffiths head the cast. They don't try for humor. They simply play the characters straight, and manage to make it work fairly well.)

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I kinda liked this sappy, woefully unhip movie, although it isn't as funny or as original as it might have been, given the over-the-top premise that ultimately was wasted.


see Tuna's main comments (in yellow)
 Tuna's comments in yellow

Blow Dry (2001) is about the 2000 National British Hairdressing Championships, and more particularly, about the home town favorites where it is being hosted -- Keighley, in Northern England. Seems the favorite, Ray (Bill Nighy) will do anything to win for the third straight year including cheating, and only fears that Phil (Alan Rickman), who lives in Keighley and owns a barber shop, will enter the competition. Seems Phil was the best there was, and was ready to win his third straight competition when his wife, Shelly (Natasha Richardson) ran off with his model Sandra (Rachel Griffiths) the night before the competition. Even though Phil and his son live within shouting distance of Shelly and Sandra, they haven't spoken in 10 years. The son, Brian (Josh Hartnett) is now cutting hair in his fathers shop, and wants to enter the competition to put Ray in his place. Shelly also wants to enter the competition for reasons of her own. She has cancer, and wants the four of them to get back together before her death.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • no significant features

Griffiths wears body paint and wings and nothing else in the final event of the competition, and Heidi Klum as another model wears some skimpy undies. I enjoyed this, although it might have been that I was in the mood for unchallenging entertainment. The plot is fairly predictable, and the film is mostly low key, but most of the jokes work, and the idea of hairdressers dueling nearly to the death for the "Silver Scissors" trophy struck me funny all by itself. 

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.5, 
  • With their dollars ... limited USA release - $600,000 gross on 150 screens
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics - or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C (both reviewers)

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