Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Review : Were the World Mine

Ok, I knew what to expect when I first heard about this one : gay Midsummer.  Turns out it's more like, "gay Dead Poet's Society".  Gay kid at an all boy's school, hangs out with the other "misfits", taunted by the other boys and the very badly stereotyped homophobic rugby coach.  It's made very clear that this is a gay movie, within the first five minutes.  The same boys that were trying to hit our hero in the face with their balls (ahem) are, in the next scene, dancing and singing shirtless in a fantasy sequence so unexpected that I had to check outside my window to make sure my neighbors didn't think I was watching softcore.  Our hero, of course, goes on to play Puck, just like in Dead Poet's.  Whatever will happen?

At this point, other than the very over the top homoerotic stuff (there's a whole "love juice" sequence, too.  I mean, come on!), it's about as predictable as it gets.  Hero kid's got issues with his mom, his dad's not in the picture.  Everybody that the mom runs into, from customers in her job to her new boss, all immediately hear about the gay son and want nothing to do with her anymore. I mean this literally - every character in the play is either gay or homophobic, there's no middle ground. The acting goes along pretty much the same lines you'd expect.  There are some cute Shakespeare references, though, I'll give them credit for that.  During auditions one character asks that he not play a girl's part, because he's got a beard coming in.  Later when roles are posted he's heard to ask, "What is Thisbe?"  But if that were all there was to this one, I'd give it a pass.

There's two big differences, however, that make this far more interesting.

First, it's a musical.  And surprisingly, a good one.  I have to pay more attention to the rest of the tunes, but so far it's good enough that I'd go track down the soundtrack.  You folks know me and Shakespeare-to-music.  It's only partly that, more like "I'll find a line or two from Shakespeare and then build a song around them."  But, still.  Great start.  The title, for example, Were the World Mine?  That's a line of Helena's, but they give it to Puck.  And then they mix it in with lots of references to leading them up and down, and fairies running.  So, really, it's all over the place lyrically.   But sung well.

The second, and this is the biggie, is that this is apparently a magical story.  Puck finds a recipe for "Cupid's Love Juice" (I'm still trying to figure out if they wrote that up just for this movie, or if it was copied from something historical), makes it, and it actually works.  So with his prop flower from the play he goes about wreaking havoc by squirting it into the eyes of everybody - the rugby hero he was pining for in the first place, the homophobic rugby coach, his mother's boss, everybody.  It wasn't until he got to his mom's boss and told her, "Try living in my shoes for awhile" that the significance of the title clicked with me.  Unlike Midsummer where the love potion inevitably causes the wrong people to fall in love, somehow in this movie he's fixed it so that everybody he squirts falls in love with someone of the same sex, even though he runs through crowds spraying it on everybody he sees.  Somehow it never seems to generate a hetero couple.  Puck wields his magic flower like a super power, seeking out homophobes and dispensing justice.

Where his theory first breaks down is that none of these newly gay folk seem to have his closet insecurities.  They prance around, they dance ballet.  They throw themselves at each other.  That's hardly seeing things through his eyes.  They even seem to speak Shakespearean, which is a weird side effect.

Once everybody's gay (except for Puck's straight female friend), the movie plays out like Midsummer - two guys fall in love with the same guy, and want to go fight about it.  Two girls, meanwhile, fall in love with Puck's friend, the one girl who has no idea what's going on and thinks they're all playing some joke on her.  And, of course, Puck's left to straighten it all out.  As far as I can tell there is no Oberon in this movie. Only thing is that Puck now actually *gets* his boy, and doesn't want to give that up.

I'm not done with the movie yet as I write this review (I prefer to do it that way, getting in at least a portion of the review "live blogged"), but it's not really keeping my interest.  Maybe it's because I'm from Massachusetts where things like gay marriage aren't nearly such a problem as they're made out to be in this one.  Second, the acting and writing is seriously coming second to the heavy handed message.  Take the father who "caught his son in bed with his best friend .. holding hands and kissing!" because obviously it was important to not let anybody assume what "in bed with" meant.  Then he adds, "You can bet I taught them a lesson."  And there we are left to wonder.  So, what, you beat them? You just admitted to an audience full of parents and teachers that you abuse your kid? That's cool, though, because all the parents are homophobic and it's ok to beat fags?

Like all of these "movies with some Shakespeare" that I watch, my favorite part is always the Shakespeare itself.  This one hasn't got much.  It's got some rehearsal, and the music, and a bunch of people randomly quoting.  But again just like Dead Poet's, we get some performance near the end.  I dig the costumes, they've got this cool sort of "Dark Crystal" thing going.

So in summary?  Love the music (seriously, I'll be hunting down the soundtrack shortly), dig the gimmick of playing out Midsummer in real life.  But this is very much a movie with a gay message, and as I said, I think the writing and acting suffer for it.  If you stripped all that away and just played it up like a typical romantic comedy with some mistaken identities and such, and it would have been just as interesting to me.  Maybe that means I'm just not the audience? But if your message is tolerance of the lifestyle, wouldn't you want your movie to be seen by people who may not already live it and understand it?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your 'review' is homophobic and awful. I couldn't get much past the 1st 2 paragraphs, shame on you.

Duane said...

I'm sorry you feel that way. I'm re-reading and trying to figure out which parts of the 1st 2 paragraphs are "awful and homophobic" enough that you stopped before you got to the parts I liked, and the whole "I'm from Massachusetts where this is really no big deal" thing.

Let me make it more clear -- this movie announces its sexuality in the first five minutes. You don't have to do that. You could spend the first 10 minutes of the story without ever realizing the dude is gay, and then after you've gotten to know him you'd be all "Oh, he's gay? Ok, cool, whatever." This movie does not take that approach, this movie feels it necessary to sing and dance about it. Literally. It ends up more like "Ok! He's gay, we get it, stop beating me over the head with it and bring on some Shakespeare!"

My comment about "checking the windows to make sure my neighbors didn't think I'm watching softcore" deliberately did not say "gay porn" because a) it's not pornographic and b) I would have made the same joke for straight scenes that were that out of the blue.

The rest of my issues were about the writing, really. You also seem to have missed the bit about all the straight characters in the story being homophobic bible spouting fag bashers. I use that word on purpose, by the way, because it plays heavily in the script. There's at least one character who has no problem using it to describe our hero. Personally I find it an ugly word, and in my view having a straight character that uses words like that is about as stereotypical as giving your gay character a lisp.

Ah well, to each their own. If you want, you could go check out the thread we did on Patrick Stewart as Shylock, you may want to call me anti-Semitic as well.

Anonymous said...

I loved your comment ! I found it very clever and funny... and I'm gay, so...

Matthew said...

I'm gay as a lonely pink brick, and I thoroughly enjoyed your review. It was fair, reasonable, and you truly took time to recognize the movie for its good points as well as its bad. WTWM's soundtrack is stunning... from the audition sequence on through the title track and its reprise. Yes, a predictable gay flick, but inventive and to those of us living the dream, it's quite entertaining. I'd say give it a try again but pretend that the characters are straight from the very beginning to the end. In this case, it would seem to be an abnormally well told sexual dream with good music: and for THAT, who can complain? Entertaining and beautifually performed.

Anonymous said...

(Early apologies, I have extreme dyslexia issues.)


I know your review was written long ago, but I still wanted to leave a comment.

Were The World Mine is not a gay Midsummer, not even close! I do agree it has some similarities to Dead Poets Society but if you watch the original short film WTWM was based on, (Fairies) it certainly doesn't feel like Dead Poet's.

You said that either every character is gay, or homophobic, and that isn't true. Timothy's two friends (Max and Frankie) aren't gay and end up as a couple at the end. Max is only into Timothy because of love juice.

The music had a lot more of Midsummer in it than you think. It pieces together different monologues and still creates a meaning to the story within the movies universe. I would say that it's more than based on more than one single line.

One thing I don't think you might understand is the whole gay part. Because you're not gay. I'm not insulting you or anything but you don't get some of the cultural references because you aren't apart of that culture. WTWM is about sexuality and that is why it is early introduced. And you mentioned that people are dancing around shirtless within the first five minutes, and you are completely wrong. (It is only one character, I still get what you mean though.)

The whole thing with the magic in Cupids Love Potion and stuff is a little confusing but I think it is because the teacher has magic abilities????? I don't know I feel like you shouldn't look at this movie as being realistic in the slightest.

The acting was atrocious in some places. Tanner Cohen who played Timothy was awesome! Not the greatest actor but he has a decent presence and a good voice, overall he was fun to see. Nathaniel Becker who played Jonathon was okay, the character just wasn't well written. Jill Larson who played Nora Fay (UGH I HATE HER!) She is one of those boring actresses, she is a soap star. Zelda Williams who played Frankie was okay, but than again the character just wasn't as great as you would have wanted it to be. So I can see some general issues with that.

Overall the movie was just very fun to watch and one thing that I believe people think when they hear about this film is that it is a gay Midsummer, an it's really not. It has references and some of the story is similar but is not trying to be a gay Midsummer.

I liked your review I just want you to know about these few things that some of the previous people who commented didn't really say. And the movie isn't for Shakespeare lovers, it's for gay people who also love Shakespeare. I guess it would be best for both to see it together and then discuss.

Anonymous said...

(Early apologies, I have extreme dyslexia issues.)


I know your review was written long ago, but I still wanted to leave a comment.

Were The World Mine is not a gay Midsummer, not even close! I do agree it has some similarities to Dead Poets Society but if you watch the original short film WTWM was based on, (Fairies) it certainly doesn't feel like Dead Poet's.

You said that either every character is gay, or homophobic, and that isn't true. Timothy's two friends (Max and Frankie) aren't gay and end up as a couple at the end. Max is only into Timothy because of love juice.

The music had a lot more of Midsummer in it than you think. It pieces together different monologues and still creates a meaning to the story within the movies universe. I would say that it's more than based on more than one single line.

One thing I don't think you might understand is the whole gay part. Because you're not gay. I'm not insulting you or anything but you don't get some of the cultural references because you aren't apart of that culture. WTWM is about sexuality and that is why it is early introduced. And you mentioned that people are dancing around shirtless within the first five minutes, and you are completely wrong. (It is only one character, I still get what you mean though.)

The whole thing with the magic in Cupids Love Potion and stuff is a little confusing but I think it is because the teacher has magic abilities????? I don't know I feel like you shouldn't look at this movie as being realistic in the slightest.

The acting was atrocious in some places. Tanner Cohen who played Timothy was awesome! Not the greatest actor but he has a decent presence and a good voice, overall he was fun to see. Nathaniel Becker who played Jonathon was okay, the character just wasn't well written. Jill Larson who played Nora Fay (UGH I HATE HER!) She is one of those boring actresses, she is a soap star. Zelda Williams who played Frankie was okay, but than again the character just wasn't as great as you would have wanted it to be. So I can see some general issues with that.

Overall the movie was just very fun to watch and one thing that I believe people think when they hear about this film is that it is a gay Midsummer, an it's really not. It has references and some of the story is similar but is not trying to be a gay Midsummer.

I liked your review I just want you to know about these few things that some of the previous people who commented didn't really say. And the movie isn't for Shakespeare lovers, it's for gay people who also love Shakespeare. I guess it would be best for both to see it together and then discuss.