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on 1 February 2009
One of the most easily recognisable auteurs working in animation, Bill
Plympton has produced a succession of animated features and shorts over
the last few years which delight with their unique style and
idiosyncratic world view. His is a bizarre world which, unusually for
such hand drawn work, normally assumes the presence of an adult
audience and where the exaggerations of sex can be sniggered over for
all the right reasons. HAIR HIGH is no exception, and continues the
animator's regular obsessions with the strained relationships between
sexually optimistic men and women, detailed with black humour all the
while laced with some side swipes at the ironies of romance. There's
also plenty of hair spray, horny chickens, a good soundtrack, smoking,
and the genital stimulation of frogs. Rudeness, surreality and extremes
of physical contortion appear again as part and parcel of the
plymptonesque world - which this time includes nods to such disparate
films as REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, NIGHT OF THE HUNTER and THE CASTLE OF
CAGLIOSTRO. HAIR HIGH is voiced by such talent as Keith and David
Carradine, Ed Begley Jnr and Matt Groening. Ostensibly a moralistic
tale of 50's high school love that ends in comi-tragedy, HAIR HIGH
actually engages as a characteristic free wheeling fantasy, allowing
the animator to indulge in all sorts of off the wall scenes and images
propelling the narrative forward. For those better used to the tight
pencil work and plot construction of more regularly exposed animation
studios Plympton's work, which leaps more immediately from the artist's
bizarre subconscious, often comes as a wake up call. In its attempt to
drag cartoons out of the juvenile closet Plympton's longer work has
been blazing a trail for years. With not a cuddly, wise-cracking animal
in sight and a hands-off view with regards to any computer generated
figures, HAIR HIGH is a must for admirers of Plympton. Since this film
Plympton has completed two other features, including SHUT EYE HOTEL
and, most intriguingly, TOKYO ONLYMPIC, which at 137 mins is slated at
his longest yet, double that of the present title.
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