Charming: A Good Premise Wasted – Netflix Review

We get the reverse story of a classic character, but it doesn’t quite work.

SUMMARY

Phillipe Charming (Wilmer Valderrama) is a prince who was cursed by a fairy named Nemeny Neverwish (Nia Vardalos) to be irresistible to women. However, if he fails to find his true love before his 21st birthday, his kingdom will forever become incapable of love. Seeking to find his true love, Charming proposes to three princesses shortly before his 21st birthday: Snow White (Avril Lavigne), Cinderella (Ashley Tisdale), and Sleeping Beauty (G.E.M.). Thief Lenore Quinonez (Demi Lovato) gets arrested after robbing all three princesses and a royal carriage, accidentally revealing that the three are engaged to the same man in the process. Being the most skillful fighter in the land, Lenore, who is also the only woman immune to Charming, is hired to escort Charming on his challenging quest called “The Gauntlet,” which will supposedly help him find his true love (which everyone believes will be one of the princesses). Disguised as a man named Lenny, she does her best to keep him alive. Unfortunately, Charming is pretty much incompetent at everything, so that will be more challenging than expected. 

Yes, he has a goatee.

END SUMMARY

The idea of being supernaturally attractive to women being a curse is actually a pretty funny concept and the movie almost does some clever stuff with it. One of the best parts of the movie is the revelation that Charming is completely unskilled at anything because fifty percent of the population will do anything he asks at a moment’s notice and most of the other half has to listen to him because he’s a prince. Without ever having had any challenges, there’s no reason he should ever have grown as a person. Additionally, Charming literally has no idea what love really is because he is incapable of having a real conversation with a woman. They all instantly find everything he says enchanting (though, to be fair, he is actually pretty suave at times), so they usually only want to talk about how amazing he is. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t have enough depth to use it fully.

They did do a good fake mustache.

The film, like most fairy tale movies post-Shrek, does try to take some shots at traditional stories, such as having a song by the princesses highlight the more disturbing aspects of their stories or a number of “jokes” about the deep psychological damage that has been done to them because of all of the trauma they have endured. Some of them, like Sleeping Beauty saying Charming did the thing everyone would do to a comatose person and others suggesting things like “calling a doctor” or “just move on and ignore them,” are actually kind of funny. Most of them aren’t, though, and they tend to just remind you that you’re not watching a well-written film. The songs, similarly, are sometimes decent until one of them is so bad it reminds you that this is NOT a Disney film.

In no way are these designs based on Disney.

The worst part, though, is the love story between Charming and Lenore. Not only does it follow the most obvious plotline at all times, it often doesn’t feel reasonable or real. It doesn’t help that they gave Demi Lovato a big love song and the animation on it never seems to match Demi Lovato’s singing voice. I genuinely watched it while saying “there’s no way in hell THAT voice came out of THAT woman.”

You really won’t buy it.

Overall, just not a great film, even though it had a number of decent elements. 

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Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of the Fire Saga: A Goofy Comedy for a Weary World – Netflix Review

Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams star as two Icelanders searching for Eurovision glory.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdóttir (Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams) are childhood friends who perform as the band “Fire Saga.” Lars, having fallen in love with music after hearing ABBA’s performance of “Waterloo” at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, dreams of winning Eurovision, much to the chagrin of his widowed fisherman father, Erick (Pierce Brosnan). He and Sigrit enter a song in the Icelandic pre-selection contest and are picked at random to compete. Their performance goes horribly wrong and the singer Katiana (Demi Lovato) is picked to compete for Eurovision, but all of the other contestants are killed by an explosion at the after-party, sending Fire Saga to Eurovision. There, they must compete against all of Europe, including the cocky Russian Alexander Lemtov (Dan Stevens) and the sultry Greek Mita (Melissanthi Mahut). The pair must sing their hearts out, mostly to overcome their own incompetence at performing, if they hope to win.

They nailed the costuming already, though. Clearly.

END SUMMARY

I’ve always been a fan of Will Ferrell, so when this movie suddenly (at least to me) dropped on Netflix, I knew I was going to have to watch it. Given that the last few films I had seen of his (Downhill, Holmes & Watson, and Daddy’s Home 2) were flaming bags of crap, I will admit that I had braced myself for a catastrophe, particularly since the critics had been taking potshots at this film already. Maybe it was just the lowered expectations, but I really liked this movie. 

This movie was previously listed among my most hated films.

A big part of why this movie works is that it always feels sincere. It never seems like Lars’ obsession with Eurovision is false or forced, instead we see where it comes from and, rather than having it told to us directly, we get that this is something he has used as a surrogate for the love his family stopped providing. Will Ferrell has frequently played childish characters with over-the-top dreams well, and this is another one of those. The key is that Fire Saga actually has a lot of talent, meaning that it’s never a completely ridiculous idea that they could get a big break. They don’t perform well, often due to the fact that their local audience just wants to hear the same few drinking songs (including the super catchy “Ya Ya, Ding Dong”), but they clearly have the ability to make good music. 

They have the passion.

The movie is also just the right level of surreal and goofy. A lot of the humor comes from watching Lars be the butt of his own hubris, but also sometimes it’s just from the absurd situations. A few times, the film just flat-out abandons reality for a joke or a fun scene, but it doesn’t really stop the movie from quickly getting back on track. For example, there’s a massive musical number in the film that includes a number of past contestants and winners from Eurovision, but it fits perfectly in context. 

There’s also a giant hamster wheel.

The only problem I could really point to in why some people might not like the movie is that it is about 2 hours long and that meant that they shoved in a number of strange subplots that might not be worth it. For example, we see a number of scenes in which a member of the Central Bank of Iceland keeps pointing out that, if Fire Saga wins, the country would go broke from trying to host the next year. There are too many of these scenes and, honestly, while it does have a hilarious payoff at the end, it’s still a dumb subplot (particularly since countries have declined to host in the past due to the financial burden). They could have cut it down by a bit and kept the film tighter. Still, I never felt bored in the movie, so I don’t think it’s necessarily too drawn out.

The songs were really good, too.

Overall, I liked the movie. I really think it’s just the kind of film that we need right now: Goofy, fun, and containing Rachel McAdams being adorable.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.