Lisa Schwarzbaum
January 28, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Big Tease

Current Status
In Season
Craig Ferguson, Frances Fisher, Mary McCormack
Kevin Allen

We gave it a B-

A Scottish hairdresser who never met a kitschy trend he didn’t like comes to Los Angeles to enter a styling competition and wins over a jaded town of raging egotists with the ebullience of his Scottish kitschiness in ”The Big Tease.”

In the loud and proud tradition of ”Waiting for Guffman,” the basic comedic ingredient here is campy tee-heeing that says gay stereotypes are so unfashionable, they’re hip. But this mild amusement is closer to ”Happy, Texas” — long on hectic twinkle and short on hilarity. It’s more a sampling of previous crowd-pleasers (here a whiff of ”The Full Monty,” there a rip-off of ”This Is Spinal Tap”) than a fashion statement all its own.

Craig Ferguson, the high-energy boss on ”The Drew Carey Show,” cowrote and stars as Crawford Mackenzie, and there’s nothing new in his take on lovable outsiderness: Everyone in Mackenzie’s daft Glasgow neighborhood loves and accepts him, especially Mum, and when he lands in L.A., trailed by a hapless TV-documentary producer (played by Brit comedy writer-performer Chris Langham), that blithe self-confidence should be contrasting with the airs and foibles of California showbiz.

But the L.A. of Ferguson and director Kevin Allen (”Twin Town”) is generic; only Frances Fisher, as publicist Candy Harper, is specific, and that’s why Fisher’s dead-on performance is worth the whole shampoo. Fisher flits and snaps as a PR flack whose brittleness extends to her hairdo, and she’s a riot not because she plays it broad, but because she plays it more real than anyone else in this bleached comedy.

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