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"STRANGE MAGIC"
(2015) (voices of Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood) (PG)


Read Our Full Content Movie Review for Parents

QUICK TAKE:
Animated Musical Fantasy: Two rival kingdoms draw close to war over a love potion that has magical, Cupid-like powers.
PLOT:
The Fairy Princess Marianne (voice of EVAN RACHEL WOOD) is head-over-heels in love with Prince Roland (voice of SAM PALLADIO). But on the eve before their wedding, she finds him kissing another girl. She vows to never love again and decks herself out in dreary, Goth like attire and make-up. Meanwhile, Sunny the Elf (voice of ELIJAH KELLY) is in love with Marianne's sister, Princess Dawn (voice of MEREDITH ANNE BULL). He ventures into the realm of the Dark Forest to retrieve a love potion that will convince her to return his feelings.

One problem. The potion ends up causing Dawn to fall in love with the evil Bog King (voice of ALAN CUMMING), who has outlawed all love from his kingdom against even his own mother, Griselda's (voice of MAYA RUDOLPH), wishes and wants to bring the same darkness to Marianne and Dawn's Fairy Kingdom.

Marianne and Sunny go on separate missions to rescue Dawn, free the imprisoned Sugar Plum Fairy (voice of KRISTEN CHENOWETH) and restore order. But Roland has heard of the potion and wants to use it on Marianne to win her back so that he can marry her and command her father's great army. The characters all come together in a tense finale that hinges less on which army will prevail and more on who will kiss whom.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
For films not screened for the reviewing press, we provide only a few paragraphs of critical analysis.

The commercials for "Strange Magic" tout that this animated fantasy musical is from "The Mind of George Lucas." Er, uh, sorry Hollywood Marketing Department. It's more like it's from "The Blu-Ray Collection of George Lucas." The "Star Wars" creator claims to have spent the last 15 years working on and off on this super-secret project (most of the movie biz hadn't even heard of the film prior to a couple of months ago). In that time, he appears to have come to his art and animation departments to throw in elements of every third or fourth flick that took a spin in his DVD player, as "Strange Magic" cribs liberally from such flicks as "Epic," "Shrek," "Moulin Rouge," "Ella Enchanted," "Gnomeo & Juliet," "The Spiderwick Chronicles," your pick of the straight-to-video "Tinker Bell" movies, and (yes) "Frozen." There used to be a time where George stole from much more obscure sources like Akira Kurosawa films and American Westerns. No more.

"Strange Magic" is set in a fantasy world that features two major regions -- the Fairy Kingdom and the Dark Forest. Love is in full bloom in the former and outlawed in the latter. But soon these two worlds are about to collide when a love potion causes the good Princess Dawn (voice of Meredith Anne Bull) to fall in love with the evil Bog King (voice of Alan Cumming, who darn near rescues this flick). At the same time, Sunny the Elf (voice of Elijah Kelly) seeks the potion to get Dawn to fall in love with him. And the potion is also wanted by the caddish Prince Roland (voice of Sam Palladio of "Nashville") to make Dawn's sister, Princess Marianne (voice of Evan Rachel Wood) fall back in love with him so he can finally command her father's great army. So, basically, half the characters just want to drug the other half in the name of "love."

And this is all set to seemingly endless karaoke renditions of such songs as "Can't Help Falling in Love," "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)," "Tell Him," and "Wild Thing." So, yes, this is also "From the Mix Tape of George Lucas," too. Pity poor Wood, Cumming, Kelly, Palladio and the rest of these actors. They were probably brought in months ago to audition for a "super secret George Lucas project." On some level, they had to have believed it was for "Episode VII." Somewhere John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, and Andy Serkis are REALLY glad they can't sing! This one rates a 3 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed January 22, 2015 / Posted January 23, 2015


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