Since I just recently re-watched this movie, I thought it’d be a good chance to do a review on it, especially since there are only two main positions on it.
People either love this movie or hate it, very few are indifferent.
A lot of folks think this movie was George Lucas’ big joke at both our own and fairytales’ expense. The ending scene may well leave all the audience turning to their friends and asking “What the heck did I just watch?”
The movie seems so obviously bad that it’s baffling how many people left positive reviews for it on Amazon. Why?
Well, it may surprise you that after stating all that, I actually like this movie. You’ve probably never heard of it. I never had until a chance line in a review of a different movie, and the clips that started showing up on YouTube’s homepage.
I will not deny it is the weirdest movie I have ever seen all the way through. It beats out “Willy Wonka and the Cholate Factory.” It is not weird in the way that I’d say was wrong. It has no questionable scenes, no creepy stuff, no inappropriateness, beyond what will go over kids’ heads and is hardly even a thing to adults. It’s still arguable that its even inappropriate because I think circumstance counts for a lot.
So, that said, what is this movies big flaw that baffles its audience?
It’s really hard to pinpoint. The weirdest is scattered all over the place, but it mainly is in the awkwardness.
Maryanne, our main character, is socially awkward. I find it quite believable and in some ways too familiar for comfort; but that is the point. Maryanne is very human, despite being a fairy, and often doesn’t know how to handle herself unless it’s at the end of a sword. She is constantly shocking her father and sister with how rude or indifferent to people’s opinion she can be.
That said, Maryanne never does anything that can be considered truly wrong in the course of the film. she is painfully honest, fiercely loyal, and her chief flaw is being merciless to her ex, Rolland. Though he really leaves her no choice, and she never hurts him beyond what the situation calls for.
What makes up the rest of the awkwardness in this movie is the use of the love potion. It will make any two creatures fall in love with each other, though it seems only to work if they are of the opposite sex. It also only works on the one it’s dusted onto, so it can lead to one-sided, over-the-top obsession. An imp scatters the potion all over random creatures, leading to some very repulsive matches. It makes your stomach turn, and Maryanne’s as well.
But I can’t call that a flaw in the plot itself because the whole idea is supposed to be love shouldn’t be forced. We are supposed to be disgusted with how the misuse of this potion can ruin people. Maryanne’s sister spends a large portion of the movie in love with someone she’d normally be terrified of. Bog, the king of the Dark Forest, used the potion at one time, to no affect, and later realizes how wrong it was of him to do so.
Definitely the best thing this movie has going for it is Maryanne and Bog. Maryanne proves able to be very un-judgmental when she learns what Bog did in the past and why he hates love, she even sees herself in that and sympathizes. Bog also teaches her how to see the Dark Forest as a place that is more challenging than her own, and not actually evil, just different.
That is the powerful thing in the jumbled world of this movie. Because the audience perceives everything how Maryanne does, we see the forest as scary, evil, ugly, and hostile. But when she learns to see the beauty in it, we do too. Also we learn that sometimes ugly things are still amazingly complex. Like a centipede. Plus, some things will only grow in the Dark Forest, or on the line between it and the Lighter one, because some species need it cool and damp. This is stuff we have to remember as we watch, because everything in the dark forest looks the way it does because that makes it blend in with its surroundings. The creatures are ugly because they have to hide in the uglier places.
While I don’t think embracing ugliness is wise, it is wise to realize that different places look different for a reason.
There’s no racism message in this film, it’s more “don’t judge a book by its cover.”
But the best massage is that true love prevails. Maryanne goes from being a person who goes by appearances to being a person who doesn’t care about them. This has its drawbacks, as she is rude at times, and also impulsive; but it makes her a perfect match for Bog who is tired of being simpered to and having everyone afraid of him. Bog on the other hand rapidly goes from being bitter and somewhat evil to being heroic because he’s finally met someone who understands him.
The message is not that it’s okay to be evil, but that love can change you. Also, that love will accept you how you are. None of our characters are perfect. But only Rolland, the guy who thinks he is perfect, is the one who never changes. Everyone else grows and learns from their mistakes. But they also all learn that perfect or not, they can be loved. just for who they are. It’s a surprisingly sweet message in a very weird package.
So what’s the verdict?
I like this movie because only a move this weird could make you get past weirdness and love it anyway. In a sense, if you like the movie, you’ve learned what it was trying to teach you.
If you can’t stand singing, especially if the songs are all unoriginal popular songs, most of them from the seventies, then this is not your movie.
All the songs fit the story, but one or two are completely unnecessary, and only one or two feel entirely natural in the movie.
And if the awkwardness of the dialogue is going to turn you off, than be warned, it is awkward most of the time.
The voice acting is sometimes surprisingly moving, but many times the characters make it weird, and to some people it will feel flat.
Also, the movie can grow on you, but it can also shrink.
Don’t watch it with anyone who hates musicals. Their scorn will absolutely ruin it for you. Unless you are able to completely block it out.
But if you can get past all that and dig deep you’ll find that with all its flaws there’s something very charming about this film. Which seems to be the whole point. And for the rest, blame George Lucas’ weird imagination and not me. Or the movie itself.
Until next time–Natasha.
P. S. ( I hope I didn’t lose respect from anyone for liking this. You have to laugh at yourself, ladies and gentlemen.)