Strange Magic has apparently been a dream project from George Lucas for a decade and a half. Heck, when Disney acquired rights to LucasFilm, Disney had to help make this as per his request, which is quite a big demand. But anyway, I've never reviewed a movie with how long it took affecting how much I like it - in context, anyway. But I can still appreciate it separately.
Anyway, Strange Magic is one of the edgiest animated movies to come out probably since Gnomeo & Juliet. Yes, it's a musical. But it's a jukebox musical. It's also quite a combination of other animated movies, but that's not really anything new. It's like a knockoff in the best ways of Epic, Beauty and the Beast, A Midsummer Night's Dream certainly, Hairspray, and probably whatever other movie you can think of that goes in those contrasts. Let me give a brief summary: This is a movie that's all about love. No, not Frozen sister love. I mean head-on man and women love. Like the Republic and Colonies of the Legend book series, the land is divided between The Fairy Kingdom and The Dark Forest. The most illegal magic around this land on both sides is a love potion. One that only the Sugar Plum Fairy can create using primrose petals. These love potions will make someone love the first person, or creature, of the opposite sex as much as you and I love ice cream. They just may sing Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch. So, mostly because of the Fog King's rules, a love potion is forbidden and the Sugar Plum Fairy is trapped under his grasp. Meanwhile, the daughters of the King of the Fairy Kingdom, Marianne and Dawn, are each having issues with love, but completely opposite. Dawn can't find a true love, and Marianne just wants to quit the department. Apparently boys carry too much germs when you kiss them (and she got her heart broken.) Meanwhile, one of Dawn's lovers is an elf named Sully who just may go to farther terms to get the girl of his dreams and put the entire land in jeopardy.
Now, maybe the reason this was a flop was because it wasn't advertised as a jukebox musical that had - not resorted to - songs we recognize and love with its lyrics to tell most of the story, and how there are two kinds of loves. If you go in knowing this is a musical with over a dozen musical numbers, you'll almost definitely like this. Some of the songs are "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger", "I'll Never Fall in Love Again", and sometimes only the tunes of some familiar work. Apart from the songs, I think the most edgy thing about this movie is Marianne. We've seen strong female leads again, but what about one with dark eyeshadow and a terrifying frown? I'll admit, sometimes all the singing may get on your nerves like it did when I saw Rock of Ages, but that was different, because here there's an actual and coherent story and doesn't resort to having songs saying something like "Bog King, are you mad at us goblins?", conversations that would be better off as just conversations. These character designs are quite strange but lovely to look at and different, so think about a jukebox and animated Hairspray, and voila! perfection.
My favourite songs were "Stronger," "Strange Magic," and probably the main one Elijah Kelley sings during the festival. I had a favourite song for Frozen too, but the difference here is I don't have a least favourite song in Strange Magic. Even Sugar Pie was okay. The final thing I'll give before signing off, or singing off, is that after all those songs, I felt exhausted - and enriched - and exhilarated. Strange Magic delivers just what you need to take your mind off a bad day and conserve your weekend. I finished the movie feeling like I saw an exercise - one that I wanted to dive into perhaps once more. Strange Magic transforms itself into a giant musical of music that we've heard but not frequently, and it amazingly does this without losing it's Shrek-like touching message. Woo!