- 8 min
Peluca is a quirky and offbeat indie film from 2003 that follows the adventures of sketchy but good-natured high schooler, Wigfall, and his oddball friends. The film is shot in grainy Super 16mm, giving it a distinct look and amplifying the scrappy spirit of the characters. The movie opens with our protagonist, played by newcomer Jon Heder, sound asleep in bed as his mother screams at him to wake up and make it to school. Throughout the film, we get the sense that Wigfall is a bit of a slacker, frequently getting into trouble for being late or avoiding class altogether. But his teenage restlessness is soon put on hold when his best friend, Kenny (Greg Hansen), invites him to come along on a day-long adventure.
The two of them ride around small-town Preston, Idaho on Kenny's moped, looking for something to do. Along the way, they encounter a colorful cast of characters, including a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses, a Bob Ross-style painter, and a group of skateboarders in cowboy hats. The film captures the feel of small-town America with a mix of nostalgia, strangeness and humor.
The title of the movie, Peluca, is, in fact, Spanish for wig. And fittingly, the film's running plotline involves Wigfall wearing a wig that Kenny purchases for him in an attempt to improve his friend's low self-esteem. The wig becomes increasingly important to the plotline, as Wigfall starts to feel more confident and assertive with it on. In one memorable scene, he even uses it to help him win a fight.
Overall, Peluca is a comedic, coming-of-age story that celebrates quirkiness and individuality. It is the feature debut of director Jared Hess, who would later go on to make the cult-classic, Napoleon Dynamite. Like that film, Peluca is uniquely idiosyncratic, with a mix of dry humor and absurd situations.
The film's low-budget production values and amateur cast only add to its charm. Despite lacking the polish of a mainstream movie, the flick's rough edges give it an authenticity that is rarely seen in Hollywood fare. The dialogue is low-key and understated, with the actors using their natural intonations and speech patterns. This leads to some hilarious, deadpan moments, particularly from Heder's performance as the laconic Wigfall.
One of the most impressive aspects of Peluca is how it manages to create such a detailed vision of small-town Idaho without devolving into cliches or stereotypes. From the desolate beauty of the landscape to the eccentric personalities of its locals, the film paints a vivid portrait of a place that is simultaneously familiar and strange.
In conclusion, Peluca is a charming and eccentric gem of indie cinema. Its deadpan humor, low-key performances, and unique visuals make it stand out from typical comedies. If you're in the mood for a laidback, offbeat flick that celebrates the joys of individuality, Peluca is definitely worth checking out.