Review: Were the World Mine (2008)


Directed by: Tom Gustafson | 95 minutes | comedy, adventure, romance, fantasy, musical | Actors: Tanner Cohen, Wendy Robie, Judy McLane, Zelda Williams, Jill Larson, Ricky Goldman, Nathaniel David Becker, Christian Stolte David Darlow, Parker Croft, Brad Bukauskas, Reid Dawson, Alexander Aguilar, Yoni Solomon, Colleen Skemp, Waymon Arnette, Zach Gray, Julia Black, Peggy Roeder, Ora Jones, Annabel Armor

A funny but quickly forgotten mishmash, that is the best way to describe “Were the World Mine”. It is also a film that initially misleads you. Everything about the movie screams camp. The DVD cover with bare chests, the musical element, the concept of a flower with which you can convert the whole world to men’s or women’s love. Just as you get ready for steamy disco, glittery costumes and a guest appearance from The Village People, you discover that “Were the World Mine” isn’t really a camp movie at all. The film has something to say, but it searches for the right words. “Were the World Mine” is based on a short film also directed by Tom Gustafson. Although “Fairies” is less good in terms of roles and vocals than his full-length brother, he does show that the same wafer-thin story can also be told perfectly (and even better) in twenty minutes. “Fairies” focuses purely on the concept, not on conveying a complicated message, and is therefore more to the point.

“Were the World Mine”, on the other hand, is firing a lot of blanks about accepting homosexuality. The story follows well-trodden paths: a teenager struggles with his sexuality, finds himself in conflict with his mother (who clichédly wonders “what she did wrong”) and yearns for the most beautiful boy in the class who, in addition to latent homosexual feelings, is also a girlfriend has. The dramatic complications are not really convincing, but just when you feel a little bit about Timothy, he brings his magic flower into play. The rugby coach pounces on the headmaster of the school, athletes spin pirouettes on the rugby field and mothers are attacked by her horny boss. That is camp again. In “Fairies” this turn was playful, in “Were the World Mine” it tends to be childish. Sometimes it pays to choose between lighthearted or serious. Tom Gustafson has not done that here, which means that neither the drama nor the fantasy element of the film comes out well.

What makes “Were the World Mine” appealing is the musical element. The songs are beautiful, complex and expertly performed. Protagonist Tanner Cohen has a seriously good voice and clearly feels at home in his role. The inventive way in which the lyrics of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” are incorporated into the story is nice, although the Shakespearean lyrics do not invite you to hang in and sing along. In contrast to the vocals, the choreography is less solid and in terms of production value “Were the World Mine” has the appearance of a school project, but because the film is also about a school project, the clumsy dance routines and the wooden-string costumes are not major stumbling blocks. “Were the World Mine” is a frothy whipped mix of gay drama, musical and fantasy. Nice for a limited target group, but most people will look for more content or more spice & glitter.

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