Magazine article Variety

A 'Strange' Brew, Indeed

Magazine article Variety

A 'Strange' Brew, Indeed

Article excerpt

A 'Strange' Brew, Indeed

Strange Magic

Director: Gary Rydstrom

Voices: Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Elijah Kelley

If you've ever longed for a movie with all the insistent life lessons of a Disney fairy tale, the tacky visual excesses of digital-era George Lucas, and enough glorified karaoke covers to fill half a season of "Glee," then you may want to treat yourself to the perplexing animated brew that is "Strange Magic." Everyone else can just imagine a CG cartoon mash-up of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Arthur and the Invisibles" and "American Idol" populated by extras from the Mos Eisley Cantina, and they'll pretty much get the idea. An insipid byproduct of the Disney-Lucasfilm merger that looks to attract a fraction (if that) of the audience for this year's "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens," this noisy, unappealing children's fantasy fails to distinguish itself among January's many, many reasons to steer dear of the multiplex.

Lucas is credited here as an exec producer and as the writer of the film's story, which follows the romantic misadventures of two tiny, spirited princesses in the magical Fairy Kingdom: pointy-eared, purple-winged Marianne (voiced by Evan Rachel Wood) and her younger sister, Dawn (Meredith Anne Bull). Life is sweet and idyllic in this bright-colored, flower-strewn paradise, as Marianne celebrates her upcoming marriage to the dashing, Gaston-like Roland (Sam Palladio) with a performance of "Can't Help Falling in Love" - the first of some 20-plus poprock chart toppers crudely repurposed here into a soundtrack that's as obvious as it was undoubtedly expensive.

When she catches Roland two-timing her with some woodland strumpet, Marianne finds herself singing a different tune (specifically, Burt Bacharach's "I'll Never Fall in Love Again"), transforming herself into a sword-wielding feminist heroine. …

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