Written by the same screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy, who received an Oscar nomination for penning The Full Monty, Blow Dry is likewise a wacky, working-class comedy set in a small British city. Miramax is obviously hoping lightning will strike twice, but that isn t about to happen here. The Full Monty may have been a little cloying, but it had some real laughs and true grit courtesy of star Robert Carlyle. Blow Dry is a collection of laugh lines that doesn t land and sentimentality that just clunks. Set in the milieu of competitive hair-dressing if such a thing actually exists, it s news to me Blow Dry is achingly formulaic. The film opens with a bit of crosscutting between a hair-cutting demonstration at the British Hair Institute (the room filled with over-the-top caricatures of the garish and effeminate) and a poorly attended press conference in the struggling town of Keighley, whose mayor announces that the next National British Hairdressing Championships will be held there. You can pretty much guess the rest: The colorful participants are introduced, old rivalries are reignited, vanquished warriors return from the shadows, hair is cut, tears are shed, laughter erupts. The film boasts an engaging cast that includes stellar British actors Alan Rickman, Natasha Richardson, and Rachel Griffiths (with pixieish Yank Rachael Leigh Cook and hunky American Josh Hartnett thrown in to lure American teenagers and their immense disposable income), but it doesn t give them much to work with. The questionable dialogue is often delivered so awkwardly that you aren t sure if it s supposed to be taken as camp or not stuff like, This competition is going to change this town and I m not asking you to speak, I m asking you to cut. This is the kind of flick filled with expository dialogue about the characters past the kind of only-in-the- (bad)-movies talk where two people have a conversation about their own past but still repeat the details to each other. Blow Dry is essentially the more straight-arrow step-sibling of bizarre-competition films like the ballroom-dancing-centered Strictly Ballroom and the pet-show mockumentary Best in Show. But it has neither the full-on tackiness of the former nor the occasionally biting wit of the latter. If I were feeling charitable, I d call Blow Dry a barely adequate trifle. Otherwise I d just say it blows.


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