Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Canon Movie Review: Blow Dry

See, I told you that it wouldn't be two weeks before another post on The Canon Review. Rather, it's only been a couple of days, so perhaps that's a step in the right direction. Anyway, today's review is of the 2001 film Blow Dry. Directed by Paddy Breathnach and written by Simon Beaufoy (who also wrote the screenplay for The Full Monty and Slumdog Millionaire, among others), Blow Dry stars Alan Rickman, Natasha Richardson, Josh Hartnett, Rachel Griffiths, Rachael Leigh Cook, and Bill Nighy. In Blow Dry, the British Hair Styling Championships are coming to the small town of Keithley, which inspires a salon artist named Shelley (Richardson) to try to get her old team back together and compete. However, Shelley's ex-husband Phil Allen (Rickman) and their son Brian (Hartnett) aren't exactly on the best of terms with Shelley, seeing as she left them for Phil's show model Sandra (Griffiths) some 10 years ago. But Shelley wants to make things right between everyone, as she has recently been told that she is dying of cancer, and wants her dysfunctional family to come together as a unit and figures that the competition will help in that pursuit. Meanwhile, hundreds of stylists have come to Keithley in pursuit of this year's title, including two-time defending champion and Phil's old rival, Raymond Robertson. Raymond has employed his American daughter, Christina, as a model this year, but things grow complicated once she strikes up a relationship with Brian. A few notes about this film, and there may be SPOILERS, but I'll try to keep them to a minimum.

- This film actually reminded me of a couple of other films, actually. A comparison that I saw a lot about this film was to the 2000 film Best in Show, which was similar in that both films dealt with offbeat people in a competition. Blow Dry also shared some similarities with the 1992 Strictly Ballroom, although it wasn't quite as over the top and glamorous as Ballroom was. After watching Blow Dry, I kind of want to watch those other two movies again, which may not necessarily be a good thing for this movie.

- As Phil Allen, Rickman does a nice job in portraying him as a bitter man who once tasted greatness and now carves out a simple living cutting hair in a simple barber's shop. In fact, he does such a good job that it became hard to imagine Phil as once being a flashy hair-stylist. But once the final scene rolls around, Rickman is also able to portray his character in an over-the-top yet humble manner, a multi-layered portrayal which really sticks out compared to all the other hairdressers.

- The best acting performance in this movie would have to be Natasha Richardson's portrayal of Shelley. Richardson was able to play a part that's been played hundreds of times before, the terminally ill woman wanting to tie together all the loose ends, and plays the part better than most. She's able to be both vulnerable yet strong, positive yet cynical, and plays Shelley with a levity that is often missing from roles such as these. Even though the script doesn't exactly do Richardson a lot of favors, she's able to take what she's given and deliver a great performance anyhow.

- Josh Hartnett and Rachael Leigh Cook are also in the movie, as a pair of young adults who knew each other as kids and are now reconnecting after years as young adults. Cook plays Christina, the daughter of hairstylist Raymond Robertson, who is not above cheating to reclaim his crown as Britian's best hairstylist, while Hartnett plays the son of Phil and Shelley. Hartnett attempts to speak with a British accent throughout the film, but it comes and goes a lot of the time, while Cook plays an American who happens to have a British hairstylist for a father. Either way, neither Hartnett or Cook are particularly outstanding in their roles, and their storyline just seems like filler most of the time.

- This movie also has a lot of supporting characters, some of which are stronger than others. Bill Nighy as Raymond Robertson is very effective in his role as the over-the-top villian of the film who will stoop to any level to win. Meanwhile, Warren Clarke provides quite a few laughs as the mayor of Keithley and the MC of the hair competition. There's also a subplot involving a model (played by Heidi Klum) and two stylist brothers that provide a couple of laughs, but really just seemed tacked on to the script, probably as an excuse to cast Heidi Klum.

Overall, Blow Dry is supposed to be a comedy about an underdog team of hairstylists coming together to win the big game, so to speak. But there's too much drama in this film for it to be a comedy, and it's too muddled of a film to be considered a straight drama. Blow Dry is a good film, but ultimately it's also a film that's not particularly memorable and outside of Richardson's performance, the acting is hit-or-miss. I'd recommend seeing it, especially if you are a fan of Alan Rickman or Natasha Richardson, but it's not exactly an essential film that everyone must see. Overall, I'd give Blow Dry a 6.1 out of 10, as it's good in a lot of spots, but not great. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts about this review or Blow Dry in general, then share them by leaving a comment. Also, if you have an idea for a future review, then share those with me either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at kthec2001@gmail.com.

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