Movie Review: Were the World Mine

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A gay teen in a small town makes a love potion and gives the town’s homophobic inhabitants a new perspective.

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Tom Gustafson, 2008

At his private all-boys’ school, Timothy (Tanner Cohen) is bullied daily. His developing crush on rugby star Jonathon (Nathaniel David Becker) has him suffering in silence. At home, his mother Donna (Judy McClane) is struggling with how to deal with his sexuality while she navigates a new job selling make-up door-to-door. When Timothy impresses his drama teacher Ms. Tebbit (Wendy Robie) in an audition, he’s cast as Puck in the school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Inspired by the play, he creates a the magical Love-in-Idleness flower that, when shaken in someone’s eyes, makes them fall in love with the first person they see. After a mishap with his best friend’s boyfriend, Timothy takes the flower to school and then throughout the town. He ensures that his targets fall in same-sex love, including his crush Jonathon, but how long can the magic last?

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This is a sweet little movie that charms in spite of its low production values. At times, the film’s sound design, awkward acting, and film quality seems barely better than the high school play at its centre. The script has some clunky moments, too. Fortunately, Tanner Cohen is a strong and likeable lead, and there are a few able performances in support. Robin’s daughter Zelda Williams is particularly talented, her musical ability surpassing others in the film when she’s going acoustic. Were the World Mine is a musical, and the songs are of varying quality. There are two really good ones, one early and one towards the end, but the rock finale is an awkward mash-up of a “battle of the bands” mess with Shakespearean lyrics. The opening is pretty heavy-handed, but once Timothy creates his magical flower the film really starts to come alive. Getting to watch the homophobes of the town fawn over the objects of their magically inflicted affections is fun and funny, with the cast throwing themselves into it.

 

Fortunately, the film pulls out all the stops when it counts. The make-up looks good, and the challenges to gender roles and stereotypes lead to fun rugby-dance numbers. The witchy leanings of Ms. Tebbit being played out as a positive, open, accepting force strengthens the film as well (and puts it in opposition with High School Musical, which has a similar coach/drama teacher rivalry that’s a lot less positive about the drama teacher). The film mixes fantasy and reality, so that it’s not always easy knowing what’s happening in Timothy’s head and what’s happening in reality, but rather than being a problem the mix lends the film an ethereal quality that works well. Timothy’s frustration and the way he reacts to the townspeople is sad, but understandable. It’s also nice to see an LGBTQI film that’s not all doom and gloom; they have their place, of course, but something like this is optimistic and sweet without being too sugar-coated. Ultimately, the film’s unique outlook and charms outweigh its flaws.

Were the World Mine on IMDb

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