This Canadian family film is truly a gem of the 80’s, thanks in part to the performances of the cast and the story, but the soundtrack as well, in which a well-known famous singer made her English debut.
While their mother is out of town to care for her sick father in Australia, Michael and Suzie are typical kids who do typical kid things with Michael’s best friend Connie. However, one night will change Michael’s life forever as he and Connie pass by a house that’s supposedly haunted. The legend tells that the house had burned down with three occupants at the time and apparently, the trio have returned as ghosts. When MIchael is frightened by the ghosts, he is so scared that all of his hair falls out.
Two weeks has passed and despite an attempt with using a wig that fails during a soccer match, Michael is truly sad. One of the ghosts, Mary, feels bad about what she had done and decides to make it up to him by giving him the recipe for a secret mixture that is guaranteed to bring his hair back. The secret ingredient is peanut butter, but Mary warns Michael not to use too much. Naturally Michael does to keep the mixture thick. However, he soon learns his hair is growing at a rapid rate and isn’t going to stop anytime soon. The new hair attracts the attention of art teacher the Signor, who kidnaps Michael so he can use his hair to create magic paintbrushes, where the the pictures just appear. To ensure he has production of the brushes, he goes too far in kidnapping other kids in the area. Will Michael be able to escape from the Signor as well as find a way for his hair to stop growing?
The second of Rock Demers’ Tales for All under his La Fete banner brought out a novel concept for its time. One can even say it is a predecessor for R.L. Stine’s prolific Goosebumps novels as well as the Nickelodeon series Are You Afraid of the Dark? The film does have a few scary moments that back then may scare the youngsters but by today’s standards, seem pretty tame.
Mathew Mackay does really well as the young boy who ends up so scared that he loses his hair then has it grown back only for it to stop growing. He pulls off the emotions very nicely and one can only feel bad for the teasing he endures adter the “bad wig” incident. Future Degrassi star Siluck Saysanasy brings a bit of comic relief to the mix as Connie, Michael’s best friend who takes advantage of the mixture in a way one would not expect. Alison Podbrey acts like the typical teen sister but she even gets a pivotal scene in the film, ensuring that she does really care about her brother and will go to any great lengths to find him.
Michael Hogan does okay as Michael and Suzie’s dad, who is an artist and clearly has concerns for Michael during his fright but commends him when his hair grows back. However, Michel Maillot’s Signor could be best like the one teacher everyone at one point, hated so much. The Signor is quite the bully who doesn’t believe in imagination and he displays this when he embarrasses MIchael in front of the class. His “magic brush” also brings up a few very potential dangerous sequence that could imitate real-life situations and one can guess that it serves as a potential warning to its audience.
The soundtrack of the film features music by composer Lewis Furey and features a few songs by a French-Canadian singer who would soon become synonymous with the song that goes, “Near, far, wherever you are.” Yes, Celine Dion, who prior to the film didn’t know any English, sings in English the two core songs of the film, “Michael’s Song” and “Listen to the Magic Man”.
The Peanut Butter Solution may have a few scary moments, but overall it is definitely a fun film. Kids will definitely like the literally “hair-raising” experience our main character deals with and the music is surprisingly good as well.
WFG RATING: A-
A Les Productions La Fete Production. Director: Michael Rubbo. Producers: Rock Demers and Nicole Robert. Writers: Vojtech Jasny, Andree Pelletier, Louise Pelletier, and Michael Rubbo. Cinematography: Thomas Vamos. Editing: Jean-Guy Montpetit.
Cast: Mathew Mackay, Siluck Saysaynasy, Alison Podbrey, Michael Hogan, Michel Maillot, Helen Hughes, Griffith Brewer, Harry Hill, Edgar Fruitier, Pat Thompson, Terence Labrosse.