on 19 May 2009
Timothy (Tanner Cohen) is a senior in an all-boys prep school, where he is tormented by all the jocks, one of whom he has a crush on. He lives in a small town; his mother is struggling with the idea of her son's attractions; but he has the support of two unconventional best friends. Sound familiar? It should, since this describes the generic coming-out story to which we are overly-accustomed by now. Five minutes into the film, however, Timothy bursts into song - in the vein of 'High School Musical', we are entering different territory...
The school's controversial English teacher (exquisitely played by Wendy Robie) is putting on a production of Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' - compulsory for all the senior students. Cast in the role of Puck amidst an unwilling troupe of rugby players, Timothy stumbles upon a love potion and administers it to all the actors in the play. The erstwhile-'straight' object of his affections, Jonathon, becomes his devoted love-slave, the formerly-homophobic athletes are in one another's arms, and suddenly half the town is filled with unlikely same-gender cravings. While Timothy is delighted to be no longer the outsider, inevitably fissures start to appear in his fantasy when the love potion causes trouble between his two best friends, and his mother almost loses her job. But is he willing to reverse the magic and, in the process, lose Jonathon?
Various sub-plots abound; none of which deviate from the standard coming-out script. Nevertheless, the unique touch of the film - the musical genre mixed with a little fantasy - proves highly engaging. Nothing earth-shattering here, just strong entertainment and tremendous good fun; bound to be a crowd-pleaser.
DVD extras include the short film, 'Fairies' (25 minutes) on which the feature-length film was based (also directed by Tom Gustafson).
A very enjoyable fantasy on the fantasy that is A Midsummer Night's Dream, Tom Gustafson's film takes a school production of the play with an all-male cast, and has Timothy (Puck) concoct a magic potion using the text which has the same effect, before making all the cast fall for one another in a night of mayhem. This is his girdle put around the earth in 40 minutes, but instead of royal personages the liquid affects the class hunk and rugby captain, Jonathon, who he has a crush on. It really is a dream come true for him, and taps into an almost universal gay fantasy, I imagine, the feeling "if only ..." directed at such a boy at school, who was always completely out of reach. The madness affects many more, of course, exactly as in Shakespeare's play, and using large extracts of dialogue from the play. All the boys are excellent, Tanner Cohen being just right for the lead, as is the boy he loves, and the teacher, played by Wendy Robie, has a perfect element of fantasy about her person ... The music brings the whole thing to life in a rather 90s style, while the visuals are always a bit apart from the real world, making its slipping in and out of different planes quite coherent. Altogether there is a lot of pleasure to be had from this ... and it radiates romantic appeal with a hunk leaping out from behind every cardboard tree ...
on 23 May 2009
I wasn't expecting too much from this film, so many non-sexual gay films are poorly written and very poorly acted (though there are exceptions), so i bought this half thinking it would be something i could sell on quickly if i didnt like, but to my surprise its going to stay in my DVD collection for years to come. A well acted, romantic, fun story, meshed between a sort of gay high school musical and A Midsummer Nights Dream, with a cute as hell male lead, some strong support from the older 'adult' cast members and at least a couple of catchy songs, its an enjoyable 90 minutes or so. Buy this, you wont be disappointed.
on 20 July 2013
A truly wonderful musical that often comes across as possessing a somewhat dream-like edge to the narrative. This modern-day take on Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" never fails to offer a fantastic viewing experience. The cast give a high-quality performance and the storyline is both poignant and moving throughout - a brilliant parable of contemporary love and acceptance. The music is also well crafted and further reinforces the dream-like vibe - the "Oh Timothy" moment in the classroom springs to mind! We've all been there, right?! I have to admit, the ending did surprise me the first time I saw this - that was a really good twist!
If you're unsure about this film - please check it out. It's a fantastic example of what a good script, attentive cast and supporting soundtrack can accomplish.
on 16 May 2009
I saw this film in Santa Rosa, California, a couple of weeks ago and was so pleased that I didn't take the advice of the young man selling the film ticket 'to go to watch something else'. There were 6 of us in the audience. However, I thought this one of the most original and creative films I have seen. It was gentle, visually beautiful, and the music was great. The whole cast between them, created something that was quite magical. The story of A Mid Summer's Night Dream was woven into the story of small town stuffiness and prejudice. It is set in a High School and through magic and dreams manages to transcend and change all the pettiness it finds. Beautifully acted, beautifully sung, beautifully choreographed.
on 4 September 2010
It's funny what a small budget does to divide opinion-so many think if it ain't box-office it's not worth the trouble. For my money, however, the multiplexes are usually a destination where most decent films will never end up. 'Moulin Rouge' was a big risk, naturally, for bringing back the long defunct musical genre was nothing short of brave (or tragic?), but this smaller film is doing something far more important, not least cos it proves a movie can work for all audiences if they just put in the time and patience and that musicals don't have to have you cringing with embarrassment and annoyance-and they don't have to star a slimy, girly-looking and insufferably smug Zacariah Efron (or Ef-off as I know her). But I wouldn't want to give the full impression that this is a full musical-rather it's a superbly realised coming-of age story that takes overfamiliarity and swerves it off into areas that touch on whimsical, tender, tough and perhaps a little fantastcial, but always sprinkled generously with humour and spirit, with the underlying plea for a little more open-mindedness. (The distributor could do with some-especially as they ran scared of the charming front cover appearing in the US as it does in other territories, including the UK. This crazy nonsense has already been touched on in other reviews here and I'm not surprised).
I realise I've said little about the story, but others here have, and baring in mind a whole host of reviews have flew on here since I got it in late December, I'm sure they've done the job for me already. It's safe to add, though, that anyone looking for a little refreshening of the 'rites-of-passage' would do no worse to immerse themselves with this delightful charmer of a movie, and lead actor Tanner Cohen is a delightful charmer too, and I feel sad that a wonderful film like this will not be the launching pad for a career explosion of great roles for him, but then he's already proved his worth by jumping into something so brave like this so early on and doing it with complete conviction. The other actors-the footballing stud who doesn't run to bullying type, his mother (Jill Larson), her odd beauticianist employer (Judy McClane) and best friends (Zelda Williams, Ricky Goldman) all chip in something of real worth and bring this charming little town to life. The staging of a 'Midsummer Night's Dream' is a fine launchpad for a little same-sex induced love-potion pollinating the air, courtesy of English/Drama teacher Wendy Robie-and for anyone who knows her as the wonderfully warped addition to many fine horror films (most noticeably Wes Craven's wickedly fun and nasty 'People Under The Stairs' from way back in 1991), seeing her marvellously understated and heartfelt performance in a film so shockingly at complete odds with her usual credits will probably need a moment to catch their breath-then a sigh of surprise, as you realise you may have enjoyed school a bit more if she was your English teacher, where before this film was seen, you'd probably have crossed seas to avoid her!
I can't help but thinkng this was the movie director Tommy O'Haver would be dying of envy to have directed, but after 'Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss' he broke through by played the 'Midsummer' theme fearfully safe with that more well-known high-school rom com 'Get Over It' to far less effect, good enough as it was for a high-school movie. Well tough mate, full marks to director Tom Gustafson efforts, his co-scripter and the stars. The costumes are cute and eye-catching, even the songs (and there aren't too many of those at all) are spirited and necessary and the actors are all in very fine voice indeed, not least Tanner Cohen and his big crush Nathaniel David Becker. The sparse extras (one doesn't expect more for meagre-budgeted, exquisitely made little charmers like this) include a director's commentary and the 'Fairies' short which the movie was based on. One of the best movies of 2008.
on 20 May 2011
I had seen the short film before I saw his full time version and I must say I am postitively surprised.
I am not a big fan of musicals, but this film is a perfect combination of spoken and sung picture.
"Were the world mine" brings us a message - it is important to believe in your own dreams, because once in a while they come true. However, we should respect each other's will, which means that you can't make anybody to love.
Maybe it's a cliche for some, but after I had seen so many dreadful gay theme movies, this one was really re-freshing.
Timothy (Tanner Cohen) is in an all boys school and is gay (could there be anything worse..or better even!?) and therefore he gets picked on by the group of sport-loving-hetero-jocks on a daily basis.
He has a crush on one of the jocks (Jonathan) who never joins in with the belittling of our Timmy.
When the English teacher - Ms Tebbit (Wendy Robie) - decides to stage a production of Shakespeare's A Mid summer Nights Dream, Timothy is encouraged to participate in the play and, after a successful singing audition, is given the role of Puck...
So the film sounds all pretty standard so far, however, as it's not just based around a musical but is one in the literal sense as well, there are some moments in there that grab your attention and offer something quite new and refreshing (at least in this genre). Admittedly, when I first heard of this film I thought it would be corny to the extreme but nothing could be further from the truth.
The songs themselves are well produced and extremely memorable, paraphrasing as they do snippets of Shakespeare's play, but it's the confident way they are portrayed by the cast that keeps this film from falling into a parody of itself.
I think it's always a gamble to put an alternative slant of anything Shakespearian but this just seems to work. Being both believable and (dare I say) compelling, not to mention imaginative and clever to watch, it really can be a feast for the eyes. Clever touches like identical silver make up on Timothy and Jonathan around the eyes when singing the title track, and the image of the extremely cute Jonathan on his flowery bed in shorts and a tight T...keeps me coming back time and again.
Following the fantastical story of Shakespeare's play, Timothy - like Puck - procures a flower full of a love tonic that when applied to the eyes causes the person under its influence to fall in love with the first person they see.
What power! Whilst it sounds like a dream depriving anyone of their free will is - let's face it - morally abhorrent and once Timothy realises this - with a little encouragement and help from Ms Tebbit (stepping in to sort things out like good old Oberon) all is put to rights.
There're some side stories that on their own aren't all that interesting but do serve to enhance the fantasy element when it meets the main story line later in the film.
The whole build-up to Timothy and Jonathan getting together is a pleasurable torment and the musical element - being unique in this genre - is handled in an intelligent and competent manner.
Final thoughts: Whilst I thought the central story was a tad cliché I could think of no better platform to launch such a unique slant on an otherwise run-of-the-mill tale. However, if none of that interests you it's worth it just for the ridiculously and devastatingly cute Tanner Cohen and Nathaniel Becker, not too mention the understated and talented performance from Wendy Robie.
One of a kind that should not be missed!
on 21 May 2009
This is a coming-out / young-gay-man-struggling-to-find-his-place-in-the-world film BUT unlike any similar themed film I've ever seen before. It's whimsical, funny, sexy & totally absorbing. (First 5 mins or so seemed a little seen-it-all-before but stick with it please!) The music is amazing too - like nothing I've heard in a film before either. All of the acting is really good too which is a big bonus for what must probably have been a relatively small budget production. If you don't go "aaah" at least 3 times during the film then you have no heart, no soul, no passion!
on 24 January 2010
This is a lovely film for those of a romantic disposition. Cleverly re-working Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, writer/director Tom Gustafson has brought an 'Aaah' factor to a gay love story. The songs are memorable and beautifully written and the performances superb. Who knows, it might even change the minds of some homophobes...