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DVD Review: Hair High

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Hair High, which is billed as “an animated gothic comedy by Bill Plympton” is really not for the faint hearted. It’s a piece of fifties nostalgia, sure, but it’s not for the faint hearted. I will get to why that is later.

The story follows the urban legend told to two prom-goers in the 1950s, of Cherri (played by Sarah Silverman) and Spud. Cherri is the queen of her school, along with her king boyfriend Rod, who is voiced by Dermot Mulroney (the only thing I’ve seen him in is Friends, playing Gavin Mitchell). Then the new kid (Spud) comes along and manages to insult both of them on his first day. Everybody mocks him for this (including the principal) and he is appointed as Cherri’s slave. Love ensues.

As I mentioned in the introduction, it is a piece of fifties nostalgia. It harks back to the time when big hair and a big red car was all you really needed to be cool (at one point, Spud’s hair gets bigger, which makes Rod visibly worried as he compares their hair in a funny moment).

The reason it’s not for the faint hearted is, although it’s animated, it still looks very unappealing. At one point, a character coughs up most of his internal organs. He is saved by Spud’s remarkable knowledge of biology, which was clearly ahead of his (and our) time. Plus there’s skeletons that walk and talk and spew out various life forms.

Stereotypical fifties music (jazz?) plays in the background and really helps the mood and the feeling of nostalgia, as well as making for decent looping menu music.

The film was produced in 2004 by Bill Plympton, an animator who got famous for his short ‘Your Face’ which is rather good. Why it’s taken this long to get a DVD release is a mystery to me (it’s released on the 30th of November). Especially considering that he had so many celebrity voices on the film, such as Matt Groening, Justin Long, brothers David and Keith Carradine as well as the aforementioned voices of Sarah Silverman and Dermot Mulroney.

The animation style here, if you’re used to stuff like The Simpsons, is rather odd and difficult to get used to, but it’s worth doing. There are some absolutely classic comic moments in here, such as when the guy in the chicken suit goes nuts on the football field, or the moment when Spud dreams about letting Cherri step into a puddle.

The DVD comes with quite a few special features, such as a two minute trailer for one of his other films (Idiots and Angels) and some interviews, as well as brief voiceover sessions. I can’t imagine why the voiceover sessions would be of interest to anyone. I suppose it would be if you didn’t know what the actors looked like or if you were sexually excited by the thought of actors in a booth reading from a script.

If you’re the kind of person who gets nostalgic for the 1950’s and stuff that’s kind of sickening, then you’ll be sure to love this. It’s worth seeking out, I’d say. I plan on lending my copy out to a few people so I can share the love.

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About Scott Varnham