Written by David Berenbaum, Irene Mecchi and Gary Rydstrom / Directed by Gary Rydstrom / Voices by Evan Rachel Wood, Alan Cumming, Sam Palladio and Kristen Chenowith
In a perfect world, families could enjoy PADDINGTON for weeks to come. Unfortunately, George Lucas had to go and think up STRANGE MAGIC, an atrocious film that is sure to offend children and adults alike.
The “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” inspired film follows Marianne (Evan Rachel Wood), a fairy princess who is set to marry Roland (Sam Palladio). After she catches Roland cheating on her, Marianne swears off love forever. Some time later, Marianne’s sister Dawn (Meredith Anne Bull) is looking for love herself. Meanwhile, Roland still hopes to marry Marianne in order to become prince. He convinces Sunny (Elijah Kelley), who is in love with Dawn, to travel to the dark forest to procure a love potion. Sunny makes his way to retrieve the potion, unaware that the ruler of the Dark Forest (Alan Cumming) has banned love entirely. To top that off, it’s a musical.
The TV spots for STRANGE MAGIC have been careful not to warn parents that they may be embarking on a headache-inducing jukebox musical. Audiences can look forward to having some of their favourite songs destroyed. The songs used range from Electric Light Orchestra’s “Strange Magic”, to Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love”. Thankfully they couldn’t afford the rights to anything by The Beatles.
In a time where we are seeing some of the best animation to date, it is surprising that STRANGE MAGIC is truly an ugly film. Viewers are supposed to see Marianne as a beautiful fairy princess, but she honestly looks like nothing more than a dragonfly with pointy ears.
STRANGE MAGIC is not only dated by its unattractive animation, but also by its message. The film is telling viewers that the only way to be happy is to be in love with someone. This is not even subtle, as it is literally stated that “Everyone deserves love.” Is there no progressive message that writer/director Gary Rydstrom could have cooked up?
While we’re on the topic of offensiveness, let us acknowledge the date rape drug vibes that the whole “love potion” thing omits throughout the film. We also have some classic George Lucas racism in the portrayal of the character Sunny. Sunny takes on Jar Jar Binks’ role as the stereotyped black character who only gets to sing a song by Bob Marley.
Ultimately, there is nothing at all magical about STRANGE MAGIC. It is offensive, overlong, ugly, and most detrimentally boring. This is a film for sadomasochists and no one else. Do yourself a favour and seek magic elsewhere.