Hair High
Bill Plympton, director

Review by Alyce Wilson

You may remember Bill Plympton from the shorts he did for MTV's Liquid Television, back in the day. His best known previous work is a feature, a musical fantasy called The Tune (1992), although he's also completed other full-length animated and live action films.

Hair High is a takeoff on a 1950s teen movie, where a new kid, Spud, gets on the bad side of the football quarterback, Rod, and is forced to become a slave for Rod's girlfriend, Cherri. Naturally, after spending so much time with Cherri, she and Spud fall in love, with tragic consequences.

The movie, which featured celebrity voice talent in the form of Ed Begley Jr., David and Keith Carradine, Beverly D'Angelo, Matt Groening, Dermot Mulroney and Martha Plimpton (a distant relation), has the same surrealistic elements as Bill Plympton's short films, where people's emotions are played out visually.

For example, when Spud and Cherri kiss for the first time, their bodies fill with circulating rainbows of color, their heads float off their heads and circle the neighborhood, and flowers swirl up under their feet.

In addition to the stellar artwork, the movie, penned by Plympton, is filled with loving references to 1950s teen culture. The humor is often visual as well as verbal, such as the hairdo contest between Rod and Spud, as each strives to create a high pompadour. Parents should be warned that the humor often has sexual overtones.

Overall, Hair High captures the spirit of the 1950s teen movie while having its own creative edge.