It's 1982, and the Dicksons (Jim, Jeanne, and Aurelie) move (are the new-comers) to a southern town where all the girls long for Farrah Fawcett-type curls (to match their back-woods accents/ and love to talk hair./ and obsess over their hair.) Pre-teen AURELIE begs her parents for a permanent, (known outside the south as a perm) hoping for life-changing curly waves but when they take her to a Beauty School instead of a salon to save money, disaster ensues. A bored Student-Beautician accidentally sets the timer for too long, and the perm ends up destroying Aurelie's already low-grade social life as well as her hair follicles. Aurelie is left as a gawky yet endearing young teenager trying to navigate junior high with what some kids call an afro, then throw things at her, from epithets to dodgeballs.Written by
Arquette's hilarious performance leads a cast of unknowns (except Wilson) through 1982, small-town Virginia. The writing is spot on and the characters (many local, untrained actors) are as believable as can be. Nena Daniels, a local, steals every scene she's in. This is not a typical 80s, Hollywood, high school angst movie. There is nothing Hollywood about it and school life is only half the story. The other half is family - your family - no matter how quirky, weird or embarrassing they may be. If you went to middle school or high school during this period - like me - absolutely everything in this film will strike a chord. You will watch it and say, "I knew a kid like that! I had a teacher like that! My parents, my weird neighbor, our kitchen, my school, those eye glasses, those outfits, those horrible hairdos, the local beauty college, the goofy townspeople - I remember that stuff!"
*****10 stars for 90 minutes of quirky fun and memories (and 3 minutes of School House Rocks!)*****
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