The Big Tease review

Having made the Welsh look bad in the repugnantly juvenile Twin Town, director Kevin Allen has now moved on to the unfortunate Scottish, with the misguided help of writer/star Craig Ferguson. This decidedly average tale of Hollywood, hair and coping in the face of adversity sees Ferguson, the plucky Scot, taking on the US of A... And if you can't guess the outcome, then you don't know your movie clichés well enough.

Of course, the fact that you can foresee the ending doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to shove disbelief out the fire exit for a few hours - - but there's no attempt to create a sense of suspense in The Big Tease. Ferguson's script is stuffed with just about every overused dramaticand comic device you can think of - Crawford is a hairdresser, therefore he's gay. He's gay, therefore he's flamboyant... You get the idea. In fact, the only surprise is that the finalé is far more preposterous than you could ever have imagined.

There aren't even any real characters to warm to. By establishing that Crawford is gay, Scottish and a hairdresser, Ferguson believes he's given the audience enough to work with. But he hasn't, and we can't even look to any of the supports for relief: there's Rasche's sneering Nordic bad-guy hairdresser who, of course, attempts sabotage to protect his title; and the documentary director (Langham) who doesn't really get out much. Boom boom.

Worst of all, the jokes are never funny. The gags involve a bad impression of Sean Connery, cameo appearances by David Hasselhoff and Ferguson's real-life pal Drew Carey; and a few tiresome references to Braveheart. Meanwhile, Allen tries to shoot everything in faux-docudrama style, but clumsily flips between the cameraman-as-character and cameraman-as-omniscient-observer perspectives, destroying any atmosphere or sense of immediacy.

No doubt a fair few cinemagoers will forgive the shortcomings and fall for Crawford's `charms' (he's already popular in Scotland and the States), but no one should be so generous to forgive the lazy nature of both Allen and Ferguson's approach. Oh, and look out Ireland - - Allen will probably pick on you next.

What tries so painfully hard to be a lightly comic feelgood flick will fail to make you feel anything, except perhaps boredom. With all the comic thrust of an ITV sitcom, The Big Tease amounts to little more than a big let-down.

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