Strange Magic isn't a movie, it's more of an epiphany George Lucas had between laps in his Scrooge McDuck vault of money. "What if I bought the rights to every pop song ever and put them all in one movie? But what about a plot? Fuck it, I'll just make it anyway." That is the movie Strange Magic.
There is no other logical explanation for why the film Strange Magic exists. Without the backing of Lucas bucks there is absolutely no way anyone would have given this movie the greenlight. Imagine the pitch:
"The movie begins inside a fantastic forest world. The creatures who live in this elaborately constructed magical land include waif-ish, lollipop-headed fairies with expressionless faces, elves, goblins, imps, insect people, lizards, frog-headed creatures with human-like female torsos, and a Bog King. All the creatures have staggeringly different accents. It should be endlessly confounding where these woodland creatures derived Scottish, Russian and fake Southern American accents from. A power hungry fairy (Roland) is engaged to the fairy princess (Marianne), but on their wedding day Marianne catches her betrothed making out with another fairy (no, really, they will be full on, CG making out). The two split, Marianne becomes bitter. Meanwhile the sister to the fairy princess (Dawn) looks for love, while neglecting her best friend, an elf named Sunny. How do Sunny and Roland deal with their unrequited love? They conspire to make a love potion that will force the two female fairies to fall in love with them. It's terrible, yes ,we know, but that's why they're bad guys. Well, only one of them is a bad guy, but that's neither here nor...
Oh! I totally forgot the best part — every character will sporadically and needlessly burst into song every 10 seconds. It will make no sense at all and the transitions will be completely abrupt and astonishingly tone deaf. The only warning will be the occasional musical cue from a nonexistent electric guitar, like in the Rent movie (not the play). And despite not having access to human culture, these woodland creatures will only sing Top 40 pop songs and classic rock jams from the human world. There will be no signs of humanity in this universe, but all the characters will know all the lyrics to the entire ELO musical library.
And most importantly, we must completely neglect to market the fact that 99.9% of this film is spent in song.
There is NO WAY that movie gets made. That being said, I'm really glad it was, because watching Strange Magic was possibly the most surreal, unexpected thing I've ever experienced. I didn't dislike it, but it's not a good film. Not at all. However, if I was a parent who has developed a gag reflex to all things Frozen, I could see welcoming the sweet relief of karaoke versions of another band's greatness into my minivan.
But before you pack up the kiddies or a great big bong, there are some things you need to know about Strange Magic before seeing it. Spoilers!
I was aware that the fairies sang familiar songs in this movie before going in. But no one warned me to the sheer size of cheeseball singing antics these creatures would be up to. For example:
That is about as delicate as this movie gets with song transitions. After awhile I was almost craning to hear the next music cue. The movie has no shame, and that's probably the best part about it. They even cut to split-screen sing-offs when one character and another are duet-ing from different parts of the forest. It's ridiculous but also great.
And that's not to say the music wasn't used in clever ways. In one instance, the fairy army marches along to the "rah rah rah rah raaah" chant from Lady GaGa's "Bad Romance." They never actually sing this song, the army only uses the "rah rahs." That was pretty clever and great and probably endlessly expensive.
Keep your eyes peeled for the super obvious Star Wars tribute.
After main character Marianne is cheated on, she has her "fuck love I'm going Goth" moment and trades her wedding dress for some leather bracelets and dark eye makeup (that her fairy servants put on). It's hilarious. I was like, yeah, go get them, Bratz doll creature, you do you. But then later both female leads find happiness by meeting a man and falling in love. The theme of this movie is "everyone deserves love no matter who they are," and I know this because the King Fairy character actually steps into a scene and says, "the lesson I learned today is that everyone deserves to be love no matter who they are," NO LIE. But that kind of struck me as bull shit. I didn't need the characters to be figured out by men. It's lazy, but this movie is lazy. Instead of writing actual lines of dialogue they just cue up "Wild Thing" and let the CG monsters sing about their new found love because hell, they already paid for the rights.
But everyone is obsessed with love and getting married, it's a huge part of the plot. It's so important that Maya Rudolph actually plays the Bog King's goblin mother who runs around asking, "WHEN IS MY SON GOING TO GET MAWIED???"
The aforementioned Fairy King who steps out and tells everyone the message IS George Lucas and no one can convince me that he's not. Also, moments after confessing his new learned lesson, he sees his younger fairy daughter Dawn (spoiler!) kissing Sunny the elf and passes out from... Elf Racism? I don't know.
Overall it just felt like George Lucas made a Spotify play list and handed it off to a bunch of really talented creature creators and BOOM, Strange Magic. Take your kids if you're sick of Frozen.