Nostalgic Review: Teen Witch

This movie is a typical 80s flick: the hair, the outfit, the story and especially the music. It is a light-hearted teenage romance about an ordinary girl who falls for the most popular and handsome guy at her school – who, of course – barely notices her existence. She is kinda dorky in her baggy clothes and bland hair-do and he is of course gorgeous with a hot girlfriend and entourage of equally popular buddies on his side. The opening sequence of the movie is just great in terms of how truly 80s it is. Teenagers today would think it was a joke and laugh at it, but back then, such cheesy openings, costumes, hair etc. were quite commonplace and I loved it.

Popularity Begins: Dan Gauthier and Robyn Lively

Anyway the ordinary, grey mouse discovers one day that she really is a witch who can make anyone and anything do what she likes. At first she does silly things like get back at her English teacher who torments her, turn her brother into a dog or make it rain etc., but then she gets serious and puts a spell on her crush who begins to take an interest in her. And that, unfortunately, is where it becomes silly to the point of annoying.

Dont get me wrong: I loved this movie for what it was supposed to do: it is lighthearted, feel-good, happy. It’s sort of like a 1980s Barbie commercial. But the story does not have much substance and the characters are flat. Dan Gauthier, who plays the crush, is very handsome and most scenes with him are shot like he was doing a Jeans or cologne commercial. However, unlike many of the John Hughes’ type of movies from that era (Some Kind of Wonderful, Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles) where the story, just like the characters, had dimension and layers, the characters and story in this movie are flat, two dimensional puppets. The premise is similar to “Some Kind of Wonderful” (girl falls for guy who doesnt appreciate her at first), but in “Some Kind of Wonderful” there were real feelings that developed, the characters were self aware, went through some kind of journey of self awareness, clarity and lessons learned, they had depth and dimension. Here, you see the boy fall for the girl because of a spell. That’s it. There is a lot of internal consistency missing, like for example, after she removes the spell, what is it about HER that makes him come back to her. Where is the moment of clarity for him that makes him realize that, spell or not, she is the one? What about his gorgeous ex? Is she letting him go without a fight, or a cat fight with the new girl at least (Can’t Buy me Love”, “Secret Admirer” anyone?). What’s the lesson learned for both the girl and boy and ultimately the audience?

The lack of these elements make this movie more a farce than an actual great movie with substance. It is totally possible to have the 80s cheesy, teen-romance element in there without making it look so silly or commercial-like. One of the reasons I like 80s teen flicks, aside from having grown up with them, is the way characters – because they are so young and closer to children rather than adults – are very much in touch with their feelings and know little about guile and deception and playing games. This movie had a lot of potential but missed the target pretty closely. It is not very believable – even in the realm of believability for 80s teenage flicks.

That being said, it was still a lot of fun to watch. Not much thinking is required on your part and if you enjoy the 80s atmosphere, fashion, and music and just the lightheartedness that comes with that era, then this is one of the movies to go for. I found it to be very relaxing, especially in this day and time where everything is so complicated and where things have stopped being fun and silly and instead almost always have a serious, depressing, overtly sexual undertone. I am in my early 30s and I feel bad for the teenagers of today – with all their gadgets and facebook and twitter accounts that take them away from real human interaction and into a fantasy-world essentially with virtual friends, conversations and social lives. It must be sad. All those things were missing in the 80s and people (and the movies they were in) actually had to talk to each other, interact. No cyber stalking; if you like a boy, you have to actually go physically to the football field and watch him practice etc. There is something to be said about that and I am always glad to find it in 80s movies and especially teenage flicks. This movie, silly as it may be, is and does just that. I can imagine that as a 13 or even 17 year old, I would love it.

 

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