A Rant and a Rave

May 8, 2010 at 7:32 am (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Film Adaptations, Shakespeare's Plays) (, , , , , )

First the rant. Rant is strong language; this just was not my thing at all. Netflix has xxxHOLiC the Movie: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and it got a lot of stars, so I gave it a try. I admit to sleeping through a good part of it (which was on fast play anyway). This movie has absolutely nothing to do with Shakespeare. I didn’t see any references at all. It’s a Japanese cartoon about a sorceress who solves mysteries with some teenagers helping her. The user reviews in IMDB pretty much say it all. It was not of interest to me. (Note that there is nothing adult about the content of this cartoon, even though the title has the x’s. The sorceress wears a low-cut dress, but that’s about it. I have no idea what the x’s signify. If my kids had been awake, they probably would have liked this.)

Now the rave, which was a surprise to me! I really kind of enjoyed A Midsummer Night’s Rave. It’s only about 80 minutes long, so I just watched it again on fast play. There is no accounting for my taste in movies, but I thought this was pretty watchable. I guess I like quirky indie movies, and this fits the bill.

It’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream set in a rave party. It makes me laugh just typing that sentence. It is a nutty idea, and yet it’s really funny, it’s pretty darn Shakespearean, and I found it enjoyable all the way around.

It doesn’t start well (from my perspective). Really, I’d suggest skipping the first 10-15 minutes of the movie. There is a non-Shakespearean subplot involving a drug dealer looking for his money. In the director’s comments, Gil Cates, Jr. says this subplot was added to appeal to the “ravers” who are the target audience of the film; he wanted to make it more edgy for them. So there’s a gun waved around, there’s a little punching, there’s a very brief fast-speed sex scene. To me, the film starts with the wrong tone.

And then the rest of the movie settles into enjoyable Shakespeare-inspired stuff. There are the four lovers (Xander, Mia, Elena, and Damon). Their love quadrangle doesn’t operate exactly like Shakespeare’s, but the idea is similar. 

I thought Lauren German did a good job with the Elena/Helena role. Carrie Fisher makes a pretty funny cameo appearance as Mia/Hermia’s high society mother (playing an Egeus-like part of urging Mia to date Damon/Demetrius). It looks like Andrew Keegan, who plays Xander/Lysander, has made a mini-career out of these modern Shakespeare takeoffs—he was also in 10 Things I Hate About You and O.

Puck (Glen Badyna) and O.B. John/Oberon (Jason Carter) are great characters in this movie. O.B. John speaks in mysterious poetry (some of it Shakespearean) and Puck is the sparkly fairy pill dispenser at the rave and in charge of the love pills. 

My favorite character is Xander’s cousin Nick/Bottom (Chad Lindberg), the ass-headed ass. He plays in a donkey costume at kids’ birthday parties, but he loses that job. During the rave, he hallucinates that he has the asshead on and he’s convinced that he’s really an ass. It’s really pretty funny. I guess you had to be there. What’s even funnier… (SPOILER ALERT)  he leaves the party with the gorgeous Britt/Titania (Nichole Hiltz)!

The sylvan setting for the rave is pretty cool. There are a lot of quirks. There is a toilet paper fairy and other fairies hanging around the porta potty. There’s a bubble-chair filled chill room for people who want to connect in quiet. It’s all very cute and playful and good-humored.

Okay, it’s not for little kids. The whole thing takes place in a rave with casual pill popping and everyone flying pretty high.  There’s a gay twist to the plot. I didn’t find any of it offensive, but others might.

To be honest, both of these films were throw-aways for me; I wasn’t expecting much out of either of them, so I was pleasantly surprised with Rave.

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