Plenty of strange but little magic in latest animated fairy tale

by Bob Brown
Posted 2/14/15, 09:00 am

At the end of Strange Magic (rated PG for some action and scary images), the Fairy King admonishes his subjects: “Never judge something by how it or he or she looks.” Moviegoers should heed his warning.

In order to gain the throne, Roland must wed Marianne, the Fairy King’s daughter. On their wedding day, Marianne catches her handsome, curly-locked fiancé kissing another fairy girl, and she calls off the wedding. Roland leads an expedition into the Dark Forest to find a love potion that, when sprinkled on Marianne, should win her back. He must face the hideous Bog King, who himself once was betrayed in love.

Strange Magic is essentially a computer-animated musical. Much of the dialogue is the lyrics of 60s, 70s, and 80s love songs, belted out by the main characters. But the constant concert of cover tunes begins to annoy even fellow cast members, who take to screaming at each other to shut up.

Tween girl fans of Frozen will turn out to see the two sister fairy princesses soar, sword fight, and sing about their feminine independence. The graphics are certainly spectacular, but the story line—in the moments it escapes the shackles of the dowdy ditties—is stale. (Why won’t Hollywood ever make a pretty boy falls for ugly girl movie? That’s the story of Christ and His bride.) The humorous asides (“Roland loves the crowd and his hair, but not in that order”) and goofy goblin antics are not enough to atone for the uneven patchwork of subplots.

Strange Magic has plenty of strange (the Sugar Plum Fairy looks and acts like popular renderings of the Hindu god Krishna) but little magic below its glitzy surface.

Bob Brown

Bob is a graduate of the WORLD Journalism Institute’s mid-career course.

Read more from this writer