The Big Tease

It's Braveheart with a blow-dryer as a gay Scottish tease whiz hits L.A. to win the World Hairdressing Championship

Best known as bossman Mr. Wick on The Drew Carey Show, Scotland's Craig Ferguson springs deft comic surprises in this slight but irresistibly silly mockumentary. Ferguson plays Crawford Mackenzie, a Glasgow hair stylist who thinks he's hit the big time when he's invited to the Platinum Scissors competition in Los Angeles. A BBC documentary crew, led by Martin (a wonderfully wry Chris Langham), tracks Crawford's progress.

Directed by Kevin Allen in the style of This Is Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman, the film — co-written by Ferguson and Sacha Gervasi — takes a low-key approach that pays off in wall-to-wall smiles instead of gut-busting laughter. Allen plays Gareth, Crawford's lover back home, and Isabella Aitken is a hoot as the mum who tells Martin of Crawford's early signs of genius: "He dressed the little men on his chess set with homemade hula skirts and performed the better-known numbers from South Pacific."

Once in Los Angeles, the film revels in tweaking local stereotypes as an officious organizer (Mary McCormack) tells Crawford he's been invited to attend the hair-off, not to participate. With the determination of Rocky, Crawford sets out to have his day and defeat his Swedish rival, Stig (David Rasche). He charms Candy, a hard-assed publicist shrewdly acted by Frances Fisher, with his expert eye for hair: "You're using a nonsoluble finishing rinse held in place with a flammable stiffener. Are you mad?" Crawford even calls in a favor from local Scottish hero Sean (007) Connery, whose hairpiece he steam cleaned when it blew off during the Benny Hill ProAm. The supporting cast, including Drew Carey, David Hasselhoff and supermodel Veronica Webb as themselves, adds to the merriment in ways that are no less funny for being familiar.

From The Archives Issue 834: February 17, 2000