As juvenile and frivolous a wish-fulfillment fantasy as one might expect from the visionary behind the lightsaber and Princess Leia hogtied to Jabba the Hut, Strange Magic depicts war as a series of scarcely muddied binary oppositions: between good and evil, the beautiful and the ugly, and singing and death by karaoke. The story begins innocuously enough, with Marianne (Evan Rachel Wood) from the Fairy Kingdom singing of her love for her knight in shining armor, Roland (Sam Palladio), only to reveal itself as the worst-case-scenario gene splice of Star Wars and Glee after Marianne catches her paramour smooching another fairy. Roland, whose only ambition is to stroke his already inflated ego with the creation of an army, conspires to essentially roofie Marianne with a potion that can only be made by the Sugar Plum Fairy (Kristin Chenoweth), presently held captive in the Dark Forest by the preening Bog King (Alan Cumming). The forces of good and evil skirmish throughout as they jockey for possession of the potion and Marianne’s kidnapped sister, Dawn (Meredith Anne Bull), generally grossing each other out as they sing their way through cloying mashups of popular love songs: “Crazy In Love,” “I Can’t Help Falling In Love,” “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me),” “Love Is Strange,” ad infinitum. Aside from an amusingly digressive take on the game of telephone, and an inspired use of the “rah-rah-ah-ah-ah-ah” from Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” as an echo of Roland’s army marching toward the Bog King’s lair, Strange Magic remains exasperating in its contradictions. Though it’s been pitched to audiences as a “Beauty and the Beast story where the Beast doesn’t change” and Star Wars for girls, the film transmits more mixed messages than it does anything remotely resembling joy, depicting its characters nearly upchucking their way through the story’s romantic resolution and, worse, spuriously defining Marianne’s sense of independence—essentially an impromptu goth-girl-with-a-sword makeover—exclusively in relation to men.
- Touchstone Pictures
- 99 min
- Gary Rydstrom
- David Berenbaum, Irene Mecchi, Gary Rydstrom
- Evan Rachel Wood, Meredith Anne Bull, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Robbie Daymond, Bob Einstein, Llou Johnson, Elijah Kelley, Alfred Molina, Sam Palladio, Maya Rudolph, Peter Stormare
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