NPR logo 'Were The World Mine': 'Tis Definitely Fairy Time

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'Were The World Mine': 'Tis Definitely Fairy Time

Ill met by moonlight? Timothy (Tanner Cohen, enthroned) woos Jonathon (Nathaniel David Becker) with the help of a magic flower — and a little Shakespearean verse. SPEAKproductions hide caption

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SPEAKproductions

Ill met by moonlight? Timothy (Tanner Cohen, enthroned) woos Jonathon (Nathaniel David Becker) with the help of a magic flower — and a little Shakespearean verse.

SPEAKproductions

Were the World Mine

  • Director: Tom Gustafson
  • Genre: Drama, Romance
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

Unrated. Strong language, erotically charged (but nonsexual) moments and singing fairies.

Watch Clips

'Oh, Timothy'

Were the World Mine'

'You Said He Liked Me'

A vixen when she went to school: Timothy's friend Frankie (Zelda Williams) sees her boyfriend succumb to the magic potion — but gains a pair of cheerleader admirers. SPEAKproductions hide caption

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SPEAKproductions

A vixen when she went to school: Timothy's friend Frankie (Zelda Williams) sees her boyfriend succumb to the magic potion — but gains a pair of cheerleader admirers.

SPEAKproductions

A gay prep-school student gets even with his small-town tormenters in Were the World Mine, but this is one outsider-teen revenge fantasy that has nothing to do with Columbine: All the unhappy boy does is make his friends and neighbors fall in love.

OK, so he makes them desire people of the same sex, which is why this movie probably won't travel beyond gay film fests (where it's already been a hit) and urban art houses. But its sweet nature commends the film to a larger audience — even if its script and acting are less finely honed than its message.

The story revolves around Timothy (Tanner Cohen), who takes his role as the mischievous love-potion merchant Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream and expands it to encompass the entire town.

Timothy has no friends at school, and a strained relationship with his mother (Judy McLane). Meanwhile, the crush he's nursing for rugby star Jonathon (Nathaniel David Becker) goes both unvoiced and apparently unrequited. His only pals are Max (Ricky Goldman) and Frankie (Zelda Williams), a platonic twosome dithering about becoming a couple.

Timothy's most important ally turns out to be Ms. Tebbit (Wendy Robie), an English teacher who's apparently the only woman at the all-boys school. Preparing to stage Shakespeare's fairy-powered romantic comedy, Tebbit defies both the arrogant rugby coach and the students themselves — none of whom are thrilled about reviving the Elizabethan custom of having boys play the women's roles.

This will be a musical production, and Timothy sings beautifully, although he struggles with reciting his lines. (Cohen, alas, is likewise more cogent when singing.) Practicing his part, Timothy discovers the play's formula for a love potion. He dispenses the magical concoction via a purple pansy, creating a town-wide riot of same-sex affection — plus fairy wings, synthpop and silver face paint.

Dosed with the potion, Jonathon finds he's suddenly as interested in Timothy as the latter always was in him. If that sounds like date rape, fear not: The frenzied lust Timothy unleashes never goes beyond kissing. Besides, he'll put things right at the end of the night, just as Puck does. Then we'll see if the brief orientation-upset will have any permanent effect.

Expanding on his 2003 musical short Fairies, director Tom Gustafson larded the movie with too much mundane back story, and he fails to impose a unified acting style; Robie and Williams (daughter of Robin Williams) seem to be in separate movies, and the young male actors are often halting.

The movie is strongest when in musical mode, in part because the lyricist (one William Shakespeare) demonstrates a way with language that Gustafson and co-scripter Cory James Krueckeberg can't rival. Singing voices are strong, and composer Jessica Fogle shifts styles smoothly from Elizabethan to modern, blending faux-madrigals, Celtic rock and Erasure-style pop.

Ultimately, Were the World Mine is merely a request that people empathize with others who are unlike them. It's a simple idea, but one that does sometimes seem possible only under supernatural influence.