STRANGE MAGIC – Review by Susan Granger

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Supposedly inspired by Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” George Lucas’s animated story, filled with fairies, elves and goblins, is grotesquely weird. Read on…

Set in a place of enchantment, this mythic world is divided into parts. The happy, colorful Fairy Kingdom is ruled by a King (Alfred Molina) with two daughters. When the eldest, feisty, purple-winged Marianne (Evan Rachel Wood), catches her betrothed Roland (Sam Palladio) cheating on her, she vows she’ll never fall in love again.

Meanwhile, her flighty younger sister Dawn (Meredith Anne Bull) remains an incorrigible flirt, oblivious to the fact that her best friend Sunny (Elijjah Kelley), a tiny, troll-like elf, has a serious crush on her.

Presiding over the Dark Forest is the gnarled, bitter Bog King (Alan Cumming), who loathes the concept of love because it’s chaotic: “Love is dangerous. It weakens. It rots…it destroys order. Without order, there is chaos.”

Primrose flowers separate both lands; their petals can be used to make powerful love potions. But the Sugar Plum Fairy (Kristin Chenoweth), who knows how to create the concoctions, has been kidnapped and imprisoned inside the Bog King’s dungeon. Merry mischief ensues.

Working from a bland script he co-wrote with David Berenbaum and Irene Mecchi, director Gary Rydstrom (a seven-time Oscar-winner for sound designer), creates an eerie woodland, filled with garish, photo-realistic imagery – credited to Lucasfilm Animation Singapore and Industrial Light & Magic.

Problem is: while the lyrics of the pop-music covers, chosen by “Moulin Rouge!” music director Marius de Vries, were meant to tell the hackneyed story, the mixtape quickly become an annoying distraction.

Obviously, the message of the movie is: “Never judge someone by how he or she looks.”

Apparently, George Lucas created this patchwork fantasy for his three daughters whom, he said, deserved something a little more feminine than “Star Wars,” which was designed for 12 year-old boys. (FYI: the potbellied Fairy King bears more than a passing resemblance to Lucas himself.)

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Strange Magic” is a bizarre 4. Let’s just say it’s a bad “Dream.”

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.