The first thing you might notice about Maximillian Aguiar’s Hairy is its length – 150 minutes – an investment that could have a viewer wavering if the laughs and the story doesn’t carry the load. Not to worry, the cinematic follicles in question are wavy, thick and luscious enough to sustain the running time. Just as important, Hairy provides a guide for anyone interested in making changes in their lives, and while the details are not necessarily recommended, there’s more self help insight here than you’re ever going to find.
Tyler (Logan Diemert) doesn’t really have the look that the ladies would traditionally like, and on full display in the bathroom mirror, we get more than we bargained for. Clad in black tight underwear, his beer belly protrudes and his dated hippie hair and frayed beard doesn’t seem to register the appropriate level of shame.
How could it, when a Frank Sinatra sounding song called ‘Lover Please Stay’ keeps Tyler’s chin up. Performed by the SHTRIKER BIG BAND, the mood for amore is set, but as Tyler readies himself for a date, he probably knows that success is at best a leap of faith.
Still, tucking away his excess fat and arranging his hair under a white headband, Tyler kind of makes it work, and in his unintentionally unhip appearance, he is the kind of movie guy that we love to root for. At the same time, as we eventually get to know Tyler, Diemert’s laid back, non threatening demeanor piles on the appeal and probably sends the lovable loser’s sexy up a notch or two.
Of course, the set up rarely works out at first for Tyler’s kind and his date’s (Anna Lindstrom) arrival says as much. “You’re gross and really, really hairy,” she flatly lays it on him.
Now, the big band music doesn’t have so much uplift, and if you weren’t already sure, Hairy lets us know just how irreverent Aguiar’s comedy style is. Cutting back from black, Tyler is gorging himself on a big pot of pasta, and saving himself a step for the inevitable indigestion, his pants are drawn on the seat of his toilet.
So expediency takes precedence, and he decides the quickest route to change is on top. Tyler shaves his head, and his self satisfaction is a crash course in denial 101.
Then his friend Calvin (Fronzo Gilkey II) brings Tyler back down to earth. While imploring Tyler to believe in himself, the good friend vibes that Gilkey brings softens the character’s cruel to be kind intervention. If Tyler wants to meet a woman and feel better about himself, cutting back on the drinking and getting in better shape is a necessary baseline.
A degree of good natured back and forth ensues, and Tyler relents. But the pledge doesn’t last long, and the black and white presentation of the film implies the problem. A hazy hue resulting throughout, the message says that change is never clear cut. It’s fraught with grey area, and we’re not surprised when one last night of drinking cancels out Tyler’s early morning run.
On the bright side, the real journey has begun, and a cast of crazy characters come marching in. Candy (Amanda Graeff) is first, and she likes to party. Flighty, carefree and uninhibited, Graeff gives us the kind of girl who will give a guy like Tyler a break. She’ll look past his appearance, dress and overall oddness and be open to the laughs and good times he may bring.
Irreverence thus a perquisite, her performance shows us a Candy who has no clue how luny she is. Cementing her place, Candy’s brother (Alex Pace) didn’t fall far from the crazy tree either.
Barry is a devout believer in God and his plan, and Pace conjures a fundamentalism that has all required contradictions. In his case, the serene inner peace that Barry projects and the path he has been divinely put on has all the oxymoron needed. In other words, selling cocaine makes a much better living than selling pot and Pace is just as good playing ignorance as Graeff
Not to be outdone, Gary (Tyler Nickell) is not going to let his terminal cancer sell him short, and the downplay that Nickell attaches to his excess is sheer joy. His solar system in place, Diemert lays back, and in letting the lunacy around him breathe, Diemert should teach a master class in the art of the straight man. Still, Hairy doesn’t leave the viewer feeling like they are caught in the crossfire of a full on laugh fest.
With Diemert conducting, the film does plod along with a low key seriousness, and the cinematographic presentation of a mundane suburban setting lets the viewer settle in beside. But the comedy void never feels off putting because the characters and stories are compelling enough to keep the viewer engaged. Then all of sudden, Hairy drops a deadpan like a nuclear bomb, and the fallout keeps you going until the next one.
As for the larger message, Tyler’s straight-laced responses don’t simply provide an avenue for comedy. They reveal where his true source of change will come from, and at 150 minutes, that’s a bargain. We learn that each of us already has an inner strength, and there begins the journey we may need to make someday.