Were the World Mine

Wolfe Video,

Tom Gustafson

Tom Gustafson,
Cory James Krueckeberg

Tanner Cohen,
Wendy Robie, Judy McLane, Zelda Williams, Jill Larson, Ricky Goldman, Nathaniel David Becker, Christian Stolte, David Darlow

Unrated, 95 minutes

A Midsummer Night's Wet Dream
by Michael D. Klemm
A shorter version first appeared in abOUT, May, 2009

What a day for a daydream. As Were The World Mine begins, the gay kid in gym class is about to get hit in the face with a dodge ball. The ball stops in mid air and, as Timothy stares at it hovering in front of his face, the lights dim in the gymnasium and all the other boys break into the first of many highly choreographed and sexy dance routines. When the fantasy ends, and the ball does hit him, only one of the boys bothers to make sure that he is okay. His name is Jonathon and he is the hunkiest player on the rugby team. Later, Timothy imagines him draped across the teacher's desk and crooning a love song to him.

Were The World Mine is a magical new musical that is anything but the usual paint-by-numbers music video masquerading as a movie. Timothy has just been cast as Puck in the all-male high school's senior class production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. His singing is superb. Jonathon also landed a lead role and, rather shyly, tells Timothy that he has "nice pipes." Ms. Tebbit, their bohemian drama teacher has made participation in the school play mandatory and, because she is staging it as it would've been in Shakespeare's time, several members of the rugby team resent being cast as females. Their homophobic coach locks horns with Ms. Tebbit over this and conspires with the school's Headmaster to get the play cancelled.

Meanwhile, Timothy confesses that he is having a hard time memorizing the text because he doesn't understand what all of it means. Ms. Tebbit, who seems to possess supernatural powers, instructs him to find the magic in the Bard's words and then the meaning will come. One night, while reading his lines in the play, it all starts to click. But wait, he also discovers the recipe for Puck's love potion hidden in the text and he uses it to make Jonathon fall in love with him.

In case any of my readers need a referesher course on A Midsummer Night's Dream, the play is set in an enchanted forest and populated by fairies who indulge in a little private mischief ("Oh what fools these mortals be"). Puck's love potion, when sprinkled on somebody's eyes, causes that individual to fall in love with the first person that he or she sees. Naturally the wrong lovers are paired off and, to add even more comedy, the fairy queen is made to fall in love with a woodsman who has been given the head of a donkey.
During rehearsal, Timothy sprinkles the potion on Jonathon's eyes and the effects are immediate. When the rest of the rugby team reacts with disgust, Timothy waves his magic flower in their faces and within seconds they are all making out with each other. Their coach sees this and predictably flips out - until Timothy squirts the juice into his eyes too. The coach flees the auditorium and runs into the Principal. Soon he is bringing him flowers and professing his undying love. Later, we see him teaching ballet moves to his rugby players.
Were The World Mine is a delightfully subversive musical in which the underdog gets even with his schoolmates by using the power of love rather than going on a shooting spree or trashing the prom ala Carrie. It is poetic justice when the rugby team re-invents themselves as fairies in the school play. The town learns a lesson in tolerance as Timothy forces all of them, including his stand-offish mother, to see the world through his eyes. He literally becomes Shakespeare's Puck as he sets this enchanting comedy of errors into motion. A few of his deeds have unintended consequences. A friend, who once identified herself as being "metroflexible," finds herself trying to escape the attentions of two horny cheerleaders.
Most reviewers are calling this a gay High School Musical, probably because it's an easy sound bite. But, truth be told, the film has much more in common with Lars von Trier's 2000 film, Dancer In The Dark, starring the Icelandic singer Bjork. Like that film, Were The World Mine's musical numbers occur organically as Timothy, like Bjork, begins to daydream. In the world according to Tim, all the world really is a stage and all the men lovers.
Timothy's uneasy relationship with his divorced mother is also effectively explored. The world of the musical is juxtaposed against a few scenes of dark drama and again, like Dancer In The Dark, the mixing of styles is refreshingly different. Many small touches in the script stand out. Timothy's father is a deadbeat dad and his mother sews the wings for her son's costume out of her discarded wedding dress,

This was originally a short film entitled Fairies and director Tom Gustafson has done an admirable job expanding it to feature length. The songs, most of them set to the Bard's verses, are terrific and Tanner Cohen (Timothy) is blessed with an etherial singing voice. Take a cue from Jonathon, who sneaks a peak through a crack in the door when he first hears Timothy sing at the audition; Cohen's voice will make you melt. The dance numbers are unapologetically homoerotic and utterly charming. Musical glitz and realistic small town bigotry are blended into a surprisingly pleasing stew. Though it loses a bit of steam near the end, Were The World Mine follows none of the usual stale formulas. I thought I was going to hate this movie, instead, it grabbed me from the first scene. This is a modern day fairy tale; enjoy it as such. It's not West Side Story, but Were The World Mine is the most unique new queer film I have seen in ages.