on December 20, 2008
The premise of Were the World Mine is romantic comedy trope: character A yearns for the love and affection of unattainable character B, then though a series of hi-jinks, true love wins in the end. That is about where the comparison ends as everything else is turned on its ear in Tom Gustafson's big screen adaptation of his own short film Fairies.
The film's tagline, `If you could make someone love you, would you?' Is honestly, unexpectedly answered, "Yeah. Obviously."
The first twist to the romantic comedy trope is that the lead couple is two young men. In the film our put-upon hero Timothy (Tanner Cohen), is cast as Puck in his senior production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. During rehearsal, he happens on the recipe to recreate the flower, here called a pansy in a nice play on words, which Puck uses on Shakespeare's lovers. Timothy/Puck uses the pansy first on his unrequited crush Jonathon (Nathaniel David Becker), then on his classmates, and then the town, allowing everyone to see the world through his eyes. By the end of the film, as in Shakespeare's play, all is peace.
Of course, Timothy is hardly the usual trodden-down gay lead. This is not some Cinderella story with the homely, or even 'Hollywood Ugly' lead forlornly in love with someone quite beyond him; Timothy is a pretty boy himself. The object of his affection, Jonathon is not the typical, unattainable ideal man either. We are shown in subtle ways that he is just as interested in Timothy, as Timothy is in him. Oh, were things only a bit different, eh? Enter the pansy.
This is not an adaptation of Midsummer Night's Dream, but it does have plot points tacked on from that play. Helen Fielding did the same thing tacking on Jane Austen's plot from Pride and Prejudice to the novel Bridget Jones's Diary. Timothy at various points may is Puck, Oberon, Bottom and Helena. Perhaps that is the perfect descriptive combination for a young gay man, part fairy, imp, fool, and unrequited lover.
The musical fantasy sequences are not really fantasy, they are a part of the plot; magic spells that movie the story along.
The music and lyrics are inspired. Shakespeare interpolated and set to music, may hardly be revolutionary, but it is still quite fun and infectious. I find myself listening to the soundtrack repeatedly. Tanner Cohen is wonderful and has a slight sibilant 'S' that is quite endearing.
Tom Gustafson is definitely a director and writer to watch, he spins a fun, engaging yarn with genuine moments of poignancy. Some of the imagery in the film is iconic and arresting. It is hardy without flaws, but the the music and the performances buoy you along over those flaws. Cohen and Becker are especially good. I would not change a frame.
on December 27, 2008
As a straight, married 25 year old female, I suppose this is not the typical movie for me. I stumbled upon the music on Napster and, as an author of fantasy books, was intrigued by the cover (a boy wearing an unusual fairy costume). After listening to the soundtrack, I fell in love with it completely. The music is absolutely fantastic, Tanner Cohen's voice is a dream to listen to, and each song plays an important role in the overall movie. I even sing the songs to my 3 year old daughter (who loves the song "were the world mine", minus the "bad word" at the beginning, lol). Because it left the theater in my area the day I found out about the movie so I missed it, I actually drove all the way to New York City from Kentucky just to see this movie with a friend. It was well worth the drive. Even though it's a very simple premise, each moment is fitting and enjoyable. The only two negatives to me were that the tagline "If you could make someone love you, would you?" seemed like a "duh, no!" to me (because then it's not REAL love), but to Timothy it was a yes. I disagreed with that and did not truly enjoy the romance between the two boys until it proved real later on. The other disappointment was by my friend, who at the last scene freaked out on me whispering "You mean, Timothy doesn't sing again????" We just wanted to hear his voice more, he's so amazing!
I am definitely going to buy the DVD (despite the raised eyebrows I will most certainly get from people here!) because the movie was clean, fun, happy and very sweet. I'm sad it left the NY theater, because I might have taken the 13 hour trek again just to see it!
on February 16, 2009
The new film "Were the World Mine" can be categorized a number of different ways. Arthouse movie. Buddy picture. Fantasy. Feel-good picture. Gay flick. High school drama. Morality tale. Musical. Romantic comedy. Satire. Screwball comedy. Teen flick. Theatrical play. But, ultimately, it transcends easy categorization and is best enjoyed on its own terms with an open mind toward the unexpected.
It takes as its inspiration William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," but it also is highly influenced by growing up gay in small-town America. Our embattled protagonist, high-school student Timothy (Tanner Cohen, playing this eager teenaged soul with remarkable sincerity) is constantly ridiculed, rejected by his classmates, criticized by his mother, and leads an isolated existence merely because he's different from everyone else.
He tries out for version of the Bard's play that his school is planning to stage and is cast in the role of Puck. It's an all-boy cast -- the way it would have been done in the time of Shakespeare, as the curiously open-minded theater teacher, Ms. Tebbit (Wendy Robie) points out. But that bears little improvement in Timothy's status as the school outcast. He is left to daydream comically but sadly about what it could be like to be loved, and by whom. And he's left with his comically insatiable crush on the school jock, Jonathon (Nathaniel David Becker).
In the course of preparing for his role, our perpetually love-forsaken hero reads in the play about a strange potion that cajoles people to fall into the most swooning love imaginable. Timothy thinks: How wonderful it could be if I had such a potion, such a magic scent, to make anyone I desire fall in love with me. So, with an innocent deviousness, he follows the recipe so well detailed in the play and, voila, concocts a potion, which he discreetly keeps in a little, old-fashioned perfume bottle that he carries around wherever he goes, its spray tip topped by a flower with lavender petals.
As a test, Timothy first sprays one of his friends who is visiting him in his bedroom, though share an interest in the other. The test passes, to Timothy's dismay; the friend becomes helplessly infatuated with Timothy and, throughout most of the film, he can't help but touch him. Timothy manages to escape his newfound admirer and, in the midst of the rehearsal sprays the object of his affection, Jonathon, instantly making him see Timothy in a whole new, irresistable light. And it doesn't stop there, a spray-happy Timothy eventually turns much of the town not just gay-friendly but just gay, including Coach Driskill (Christian Stolte), the biggest homophobe in the school. His mother's snobbish friend, who routinely snubbed gays, suddenly is overcome with an urgent need to have his mother in bed. His friend prefers Timothy's company over his own girlfriend's. The coach keeps trying to serenade the confounded (and married) school principal. What has happened to people? Confusion begins. Jealousy develops. Love reigns. Especially gay love.
And, it's an exquisite kind of love, as the fantasy expands from a simple lavender liquid in a bottle to take over the entire filmscape with colorful, glittery costumes and sets, like a genie being let out of a bottle to fulfill a much-longed-for wish. The fantasy sequences, like a super-sweet sugar, gradually dissolve the boundaries that limit them to the movie's occasional, and rather catchy musical numbers (the soundtrack is by Jessica Fogle) and become more continually present. The visuals (shot by Kira Kelly with Cory James Krueckeberg's production design) are a sight to behold: quite theatrical, lavish and a bit gaudy, reminiscent of the French photographers Pierre et Gilles, and used to wonderful effect here (especially for a film with such a limited budget).
The actors may appear a little too old to be playing teenagers, but their childlike exuberance and general goofiness help make up for that in this decidedly unusual and uninhibited movie directed by Tom Gustafson, who co-wrote the screenplay with Krueckeberg.
But, what's really wonderful about this film is that it addresses a real issue with which millions of kids suffer in and out of school: the loneliness of not fitting in with anyone and the longing and trauma that go with it. And it has tremendous fun doing so, addressing the issue in a simple, off-kilter, little story, but not taking itself too seriously. Delightful.
on June 10, 2009
Based (very) loosely on "A Midsummer Night's Dream", but actually adapted from writer/director Tom Gustafson's successful 2003 short film "Fairies", "Were the World Mine" is a full length gay musical, being compared as better than "Hedwig ..." and obviously more relatable. It is essentially a fantasy about Timothy, a gay boy who auditions to play Puck in the play at his all-boy private high school, and - in researching the role - finds how to recreate Cupid's love potion, which allows him to have his crush, the school's rugby team star, fall in love with him instantly. He spreads the "love" around by doling out the potion to others, often with unintended consequences. His drama teacher, a rather weird egg who operates on a different plane than most of her fellow teachers, catches on to what happened, and tries to help.
Word of caution: If you catch only a few scenes from the film, don't judge it out of context. There are exaggerated, stereotypical scenes of the rugby team (after the potion) doing ballet moves on the field, the (previously homophobic) burly coach professing his love to the male headmaster of the school, and seemingly "instant" same-sex couples kissing all over the place. It's supposed to be a FANTASY, people, so saying "That's not realistic" is redundant!
The cast is mostly unknowns with minimal credits, with the exception of Tanner Cohen as Timothy, who is noteworthy for a fine acting and singing performance, and Wendy Robie as the drama teacher, who ties the story together. Filmed in and around Chicago, this is delightful, well-conceived entertainment that we seldom get targeting our community. Winner of 17 awards at gay and indie film festivals, and well-deserved. DVD (not rated but would be only a PG) includes director commentary and trailer. There's also a soundtrack CD available. Five glitter stars out of five!
on June 13, 2009
I will not add to the praise heaped upon this movie by other reviewers. I too consider it excellent in spite of occasional technical flaws (the camera work is a bit iffy--it does not pay to be influenced by a turkey like "Moulin Rouge"). If there is a definition of "gay innocence" this film contains it. It's worthwhile to notice that in spite of its critical success, it has met with outright rejection from the straight film world--Sundance, Tribecca etc.--because it is considered "over the top". I really look forward to more of Gustafson's work. And where can one find his award winning short?
on June 21, 2009
Sexy & effervescent, "Were The World Mine" puts a gay twist on the play "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Tanner Cohen--quite the find--is the lead character Timothy, a gay teenager in a boy's school who is constantly put upon because of his sexuality. Frustrated by his town's narrow-mindedness--and secretly longing for one of the school jocks named Jonathan--he is intrigued by the school play of AMSND arranged by his eccentric but wisely knowing drama teacher. Timothy tries out & is cast as the fairy Puck; it is from his readings that he discovers the ingredients for a love potion hidden within the very script. Embodied within the beauty of a purple flower, Timothy accidentally applies the new potion to his straight friend Max, and he cannot shake Max out of his smitten illusion for Timothy. Thus begins the fun as Timothy forces the town to, for once, "see things through his eyes" as homophobic school jocks fawn over each (and dance ballet during rugby practice), the jerk of a sports coach pines for the principal, and nearly all of the town's people are pursuing same-sex romances.
Through all the pandemonium & criss-cross arrows that Cupid fires, Timothy does get his man...but is their love really true? In order to find out, the drama teacher encourages the townspeople to attend the play as the spell is finally broken. The result is pleasing as lessons are learned about accepting each other & various concepts of love...and to Timothy's surprise, does get his wish for true love.
Experimenting with musical formats is nothing new in movies. Remember "All That Jazz"? "Pennies From Heaven"? Like the "High School Musical" franchise, the musical moments are there to highlight the feelings of Timothy & his wish fulfillment as imagination & fantasy take over. Occasionally, the pacing feels a bit jerky as the film stops & goes between the storytelling & the musical interludes, but it's still a fun & tantalizing movie to watch, with strong messages about prejudice & the dangerous powers of love.
We just finished watching this DVD, and I have to say I thought it was excellent. A very sweet and endearing show with some terrific music. And some really good singers, too. It has a very satisfying and upbeat ending, so if a happy ending is important to you like it is to me, you'll like this one!
on July 12, 2009
"Were the World Mine" didn't end up "in theaters soon," but it definitely deserves a place in YOUR home theater. Dazzling, romantic, and heartbreaking, it's the tale of Timothy, a gay teen who's miserable in his small-town prep school and in unrequited lust with Jonathon, a handsome, popular rugby player. When Timothy reluctantly auditions for the role of Puck in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," he surprises everyone, even Jonathon, with his talent. Later Timothy discovers the recipe for a love potion hidden in the script, and creates it. Does it work? Wow, does it ever. Armed with a prop pansy that sprays the magical elixir, Timothy turns the town upside down as starry-eyed same-sex couples snuggle in public or pursue unwilling partners, and Jonathon is finally in Timothy's arms... but is it real love or midsummer madness?
I loved this movie. The music is wonderful, and the musical numbers in the movie aren't Hollywood-style elaborate; there's a simplicity and roughness to them that really makes them believable as Timothy's fantasies. The cast is excellent, and I really liked Wendy Robie as Ms. Tebbit, the wise and witchy teacher who might be more responsible for the romantic havoc than she lets on, and Tanner Cohen is absolutely splendid as Timothy...yes, I love watching cute hotties that can sing!(Note: there is boykissing and cuddling, but nothing explicit.)
Definitely give this musical, and its soundtrack, a try. It'll be a 'fond pageant' you'll want to watch again and again.
on May 28, 2009
I just had to put my two cents in about this movie, mostly because it was THE most magical movie that I've ever scene, most especially due to the music and harmonies of a caliber all their own and I have yet to see in many mainstream musicals let alone from mainstream or indie films and made available thanks to relative unknowns as far as mainstream cinema and the indie circuits are concerned. It is what makes this movie that MORE incredible to me.
I've also been put off by comments about the ending being seemingly unfinished or unrealistic. For anyone who knows anything about Shakespeare, and specifically a Midsummer Night's Dream, they would know that, for the characters, it's all about them opening themselves to new perspectives whether that be through disguises that sometimes mean a change in gender or through a magical potion, eyes are opened, perspectives change, and, in the end, the characters conclude where they're supposed to be and with WHOM they're supposed to be, which may not be where or with persons they started out and which made the ending of this movie, for me, very fulfilling.
Were the World Mine, was as much about the supposedly straight rugby jock (played with surprising dimensionality and singing talent by Nathaniel David Becker) opening his own eyes and engaging with his emerging feelings for the boys' prep school queer outcast, Timothy (played melodiously by Tanner Cohen) thanks partially to a new reality made magically available by the mysterious drama teacher (played by the always engaging Wendy Robie) than it was about Timothy fearlessly challenging the status quo in order for him to realize his own dreams and most importantly, wake up his sleeping town so caught up in their own traditionalist behaviour and religious fervor that they forget about the complexities of not only theatre, but of human emotions, specifically LOVE.
That being said, I feel the magic of this movie was even more engaging thanks to a slow build-up from Timothy's own fantasy life to the relationships and realities surrounding the prep school, town, and the friends and family of Timothy, and with the story coming to fruition when fantasy suddenly merges with reality, and conflicts finally force Timothy to confront the consequences of his trickster like behaviour as the town's own Puck, not to mention the maturity he exhibits when he has to give up his fantasy in order to make a life for himself in the realities of a town that is itself in dire need of its own maturation.
All in all, I found this movie to be within a class of its own as far as moviemaking is concerned, thanks to writer and director Tom Gustafson, writer Cory James Krueckeberg, and I will never forget the music of Jessica Fogle, the cinematography of Kira Kelly, nor all the cast and crew that made this movie so spectacular (in my opinion of course, but I believe will be others' opinions as well).
I think Hollywood and Independent features will have a very difficult time competing with such an amazing collage of acting, music, cinematography and, most importantly, storytelling.
on February 19, 2015
Excellent and horrably underrated movie musical based on A Midsummer Night's Dream. The soundtrack taken alone is a modern Broadway Musical. The movie really takes off at the song 'Were The World Mine'. By this point, the audience has been introduced to the characters and is ready for the fantastic - get ready to suspend belief. Coupled with the twist on Shakespeare is the angst of wanting love and the hilarity that ensues.
A very entertaining, funny, well-acted movie that made me wish that some musical fantasies would come true.