Growin' a Beard Review

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by AVForums Jun 1, 2004 at 12:00 AM

    Growin' A Beard is a short documentary about the annual beard growing contest in the small (popn. 2049) town of Shamrock, TX. It tells the tale of the 1998 contest when the local hirsute men are met head on by a Hairy Outsider. Now no outsider has ever won the contest, held every year on St.Patrick's Day, as part of the town's celebrations of it's Irish heritage, and local favourites Roy Wardlow (he paints it green), Richard “Dick” Smith (he enters every 10 years) or Bill Howe (he takes pills) plan to make sure that this year is no exception. We join the competitors on New Years Day 1998 as they prepare for the competition to be held in 3 months time, and follow them as they attempt to grow the thickest, most luxuriant and well presented Donegal beard they can for a “Face Off in Shamrock”.Director Mike Woolf has presented a very funny, and often hilarious, look at that strange creature, the human being. Perfectly capturing the quirkiness that often exists in small towns the world over, Woolf looks on his subject matter with the same kind of affection that Christopher Guest (Waiting For Guffman, A Mighty Wind) brings to his mockumentary moviemaking, except of course that none of this is scripted or invented, which makes the story all the funnier. Although thirty minute seems ridiculously short in is just about right, I mean there is only so much you can say about growin' a beard! The film is tinged with a hint of sadness with the humour. Shamrock is clearly a one horse town and the horse left years ago, when the famous Route 66 was bypassed leaving the town struggling for survival and Woolf's camera cleverly depicts this in the guise of his beard growing documentary.

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