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The Big Tease

Starring Craig Ferguson, Frances Fisher and Mary McCormack
Screenplay by Sacha Gervasi & Craig Ferguson
Directed by Kevin Allen

IN SHORT: Consistent giggles [Rated R for language. 83 minutes]

With the press notes calling The Big Tease something like "The Rocky of Hairdressing Movies" I am so dying to make a "mousse and squirrel" joke . . . but I won't.

What I will say is that every time I think the "mockumentary" format has pretty well been beaten like a dead horse, someone comes along and kicks some life into the ol' nag, for one more go round. What we get in the slow to start The Big Tease -- hey, the horse was "resting" as Eric Idle would've put it -- is a set of Scottish accents so thick you couldn't cut 'em if you tried. We meet Crawford Mackenzie (Craig Ferguson), a fully out of the closet hairdresser who is a bona fide star in his small community. When Mackenzie receives an invitation to the World Freestyle Hairdressing Championship in Los Angeles, a crack documentary team led by Martin Samuels (Chris Langham) tags along to see if the local boy can best three times world champion Stig Ludwiggssen (David Rasche). Ludwiggssen has been brown nosing the LA celeb scene for so long that his "authentic" accents has to be created on demand. In other words, rather than taking the cheap way out and blasting the audience with every gay joke about hairdressers you've probably heard a dozen times by now, The Big Tease drops us into a Los Angeles scene that is even shallower than anything us native born Americans could dream of.

When Crawford arrives in LA, he discovers to his horror that his invitation was not to compete, but to fill space in the auditorium. Even if she could bend the rules, he is told by Contest Coordinator Monique Geingold (Mary McCormack), he isn't a member of the sponsoring Guild -- H.A.G. -- and so isn't eligible. Booted out of his high class hotel into a low cost rental up in the Valley, Crawford and Crew, aided by hotshot publicist Candy Harper (Frances Fisher) and a smattering of teevee celebs embark on a quest to get Crawford that big break.

All the humor in The Big Tease is consistently sitcom, which means an hour and a half of gentle giggles with the occasional guffaw. Virtually all the jokes are lightweight, meaning the merest hint at what they are would give them away. The strength of the flick is that all the featherweight jokes in the world, when they come at your one after another after another, do build into an avalanche of jaw dropping proportions by the time you hit the final competition and see for yourself what is considered "hair styling".

If the names don't look familiar, the faces will. Craig Ferguson has been co-starring on The Drew Carey Show for a number of years as Mr. Wick. David Rasche's face will ring bells (though I'm damned if I could tell you from where). Frances Fisher was last seen in a small flick called Titanic. McCormack was married to Howard Stern in Private Parts.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Big Tease, he would have paid...


...which is pay per view level. I've been getting a lot of email from readers boasting of $2 midweek tickets or 2 for 1 deals in their local theaters. So, you've got your choice. You can suffer through any number of three hour monsters, or you can buy the big popcorn, giggle at the funny parts, point at the celebrity cameos and make out if you get tired of any of it. Cranky votes for fun.

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