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  Hair High Lessons In Love
Year: 2004
Director: Bill Plympton
Stars: Eric Gilliland, Sarah Silverman, Dermot Mulroney, Beverly D'Angelo, David Carradine, Keith Carradine, Martha Plimpton, Tom Noonan, Zak Orth, Justin Long, Michael Showalter, Hayley DuMond, Ed Begley Jr, Craig Bierko, Jay O. Sanders
Genre: Horror, Comedy, AnimatedBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Wally (voiced by Michael Showalter) and his girlfriend Buttercup (Hayley DuMond) have stopped off at this diner to have a bite to eat before they go along to their prom tonight, but relations are not going well between them, and both are acting huffy and argumentative. The final straw for the owner of the establishment, JoJo (Keith Carradine), is when Wally notices a couple of flies mating on the counter and squashes them, much to Buttercup's dismay - will this spell the end of their love? Not if JoJo has anything to do with it as he has a yarn to spin that may teach them a lesson...

For Hair High, cult animator Bill Plympton had a noticably higher profile group of actors providing the voices for his idiosyncratic visions, reputedly brought on board by distant relative Martha Plimpton, who also provided a voice. In truth, it didn't make a huge amount of difference as sure, the cast was fine, but any of this director's cartoons are going to be mainly about the imagery which tended to overpower any of the sound effects and whatnot that accompanied it. So it was here, although Plympton utilised a slicker method of animating instead of his traditional, insanely committed string of pencil drawings.

Nevertheless, this remained recognisably his work, with all the nutty flights of fancy and dubious taste in humour that went along with that. His plot this time was a little stronger, or at least a shade more simple and straightforward than his previous features, while allowing room for the kind of sequences that his fans would be familiar with from his short cartoons. The kind of thing that had made his name, with their crazed, stylised violence and bizarre sense of humour that somehow made even his most off colour gags palatable, that was what you got here, all mixed into a tale of nineteen-fifties high school angst.

This was taken from Plympton's youth, and for about two-thirds it could be a parody of any number of teen flicks that he may have seen at the time, the sort of material that filled up drive-ins across America. The story JoJo relates is of Spud, the new kid in school who makes the mistake of accidentally bumping into the car of the self-proclaimed king of the school, Rod (Dermot Mulroney), thus marking him out for victimisation. To make matters worse, Spud annoys Rod's girlfriend Cherri (Sarah Silverman) who insists that he become her slave and carry her books when he humiliates her in biology class by not giving her the answer she wanted to the question the teacher asked.

Rod warns him that he will kill Spud should any hint of affection pass between the two, and we don't know how literal he is with that threat until that final third when Hair High turns into the kind of horror story that would not look out of place in one of those old EC Comics. If this is sounding almost conventional for a Plympton effort, rest assured that he found time for such setpieces as a football game that not only saw limbs flying in absurdly calamitous injuries, but also the team mascot, dressed as a chicken, taking a strong aphrodisiac and humping everything he can get his hands on. Well, everything except females. There's certainly an authenticity to the sense of Spud's high school outcast persona, informed by the creator's experiences, but this was not some nostalgic work like Grease, this set out to make you laugh in the weird way that Plympton alone could do. His short films may have generally portrayed his best work, but that was no slight on the ingenuity here.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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