Saturday, July 4, 2009

Review: Were the World Mine

When it comes to gay-themed movies, I'm continuously horrified by how bad so many of them are. I'm not sure if it's that they are usually low-budget (i.e. few major studios want to fund such risky ventures) and thus come off amateurish, or if the actors/writers/directors are just too damn pig-headed to have people other than their friends give them feedback on their work, which might actually improve the storylines and production. I don't want to seem hypercritical though. There are some great gay movies. Two that immediately come to mind are the intensely lush period drama Lilies (1996) and the hysterical comedy But I'm a Cheerleader (1999). To this list of great gay movies I am adding Were the World Mine, which was released in theaters last year and is now out on DVD. It has won quite a few GLBTQ film awards and has been a favorite with audiences since its release. You can visit the film's official website at

The story is a gay fantasia with a plot tagline that reads: "If you had a love-potion, who would you make fall madly in love with you?" Timothy, a gay student at an all-boys high school, is teased as the queer misfit, but when he decides to try out for the school play of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, he learns how a little magic can be both good and bad. The acting is solid. Tanner Cohen (Timothy) and his love interest Nathaniel David Becker (Jonathon) are the main boys around him the story revolves. It helps that they're both absolutely adorable and have amazing "sets of pipes" (to quote Jonathon). Singing Jessica Fogle's original music in an angelic tenor/falsetto range, you cannot help but stop, listen, and find yourself drawn into their world. I downloaded the soundtrack afterwards and for the past few weeks still keep finding myself humming lines, such as the brief but beautiful "Oh Timothy" and "What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?"

All of this takes into consideration then the writing by director Tom Gustafson and co-author Cory James Krueckeberg. They've brought together a good script, but then again, they are borrowing on Shakespeare, so it's difficult to go wrong with one of the greatest authors of the English language. Indeed, what's fascinating to me from an academic perspective is their use of Shakespeare throughout the play, particularly in the songs. They don't adapt specific monologues, but combine the words of various characters. (And if you're questioning how I know this, I actually did run out after seeing the movie to buy a copy of Shakespeare's play and reread it.) As a result of this textual shuffle, no single character in the film comes across as one individual figure from Shakespeare's play. They all take on various roles, male, female, and faerie, and this fluctuating gender/sexual transference works perfectly with a story about magic, fantasy, and social acceptance for all forms of love. For instance, in the main song "Were the World Mine," the following lines of Shakespeare phrases are just some of the words that appear in the song as it's sung by Timothy and Jonathon:

(Act 1, Scene 1)
Helena: My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye, / My tongue should catch your tongue's sweet melody. / Were the world mine.
(Act III, Scene 1)
Bottom: I see their knavery: this is to make an ass of me, to fright me, if they could ... and I will sing, that they shall hear I am not afraid. ...
Titania: What angel wakes me from my flowery bed? ... I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again.
(Act III, Scene 2)
Puck: Up and down, up and down, / I will lead them up and down.

I've included two video clips from YouTube. The first is the song "Were the World Mine." The dance segment toward the end is a bit hokey so it's okay to laugh at it, but the rest of it is quite engaging. The second video clip is the trailer for the movie. Both definitely set the tone for the film, so enjoy. As for me, I have a flower to conjure up to make a certain someone fall in love with me...

1 comment:

teddygood said...

I saw this movie on DVD this weekend and loved it!