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Saturday, August 02, 2014

A Simple Wish

It's time for another edition of the Saturday Night At The Movies, and as promised, I will be continuing a special ten-part series based on a discovery that I made at my workplace one day.

Last week, I told you about how I bought a 10-pack of movies for the price of five dollars.  All of these movies are family films that were released during the eighties and nineties, and while some of these films weren't exactly considered Oscar winning masterpieces (well, okay...none of these films are Oscar winning masterpieces), I still enjoyed them enough to give them another whirl.

This is week #2 of 10, and this movie feature will wrap up on Saturday, September 27, 2014.  And last week, we took a look at "The Wizard", a film which starred a 13-year-old Fred Savage, and featured the first appearance of the video game "Super Mario Brothers 3". 

For this week's edition of the blog, we're going to take a look at a film that was released seventeen years ago, and features a very different kind of fairy godmother.

I'm sure that most of us have seen the movie "Cinderella".  While this is not the movie that I will be looking at this time around, there is an element in common between the other film that I want to discuss. 

Halfway through Cinderella, Cinderella happens to have a fairy godmother intervene and give her a temporary makeover so that she can meet the prince of her dreams.  You see, with a flick of the wrist and a "bibbidy bobbidy boo", Cinderella's fairy godmother made it her mission to grant whatever wish she desired - albeit for a limited time only.

And since Cinderella became the belle of the ball all those years ago, fairy godmothers have made appearances throughout media from "Witch's Night Out" to "The Fairly OddParents".  Even "Shrek 2" had a Fairy Godmother - but of course, that fairy godmother did more harm than good.

But what happens when you have a male fairy godmother who seemingly doesn't have any control over his powers and ends up transforming simple wishes into dreams that people never had in the first place?  What if your simple wish was granted by this fairy godmother, and it ended up turning into the exact opposite thing that you wished for?

Well, in the 1997 film "A Simple Wish", that's exactly what happens, as a little girl makes a wish for her father, and it unfortunately ends up in the hands of one of the most inept wish granters to ever exist.

Despite the film's star power - actors Martin Short, Kathleen Turner, Robert Pastorelli, Ruby Dee, Amanda Plummer, Francis Capra, and Mara Wilson all had roles in the film - the film only managed a 27% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was savaged by critics.  It also only made eight million at the box office - which was a twenty million dollar LOSS.  Ouch.

But despite the fact that this movie was a box office bomb - there's a part of me that actually didn't mind the film.  Sure, it wasn't the best film that I've ever seen...but at the same time, it is far from being the worst.  After all...I did walk out of the theatre halfway through "Freddy Got Fingered".

Sigh...Tom Green...what the hell were you thinking?

Okay, so here's the situation of the film.  Murray (Short) is the only man in a room filled with hopeful fairy godmothers, all vowing to pass their final exams to become a full-fledged godmother with all the perks.  And, to say that Murray is a guy who prefers to do things the easy way is probably one of the biggest understatements of the film world.  He tries cheating on the exam multiple times but fails at every attempt, and ends up becoming one of the last students to finish.  Despite the fact that he is woefully unprepared, he barely passes the exam.

A few months later, in New York City, an aspiring actor named Oliver Greening (Pastorelli) is feeling dejected after being turned down for the opportunity to star in a Broadway performance of "A Tale of Two Cities".  And, Oliver's daughter Annabel (Wilson) is busy trying to convince her brother Charlie (Capra) that fairies do exist, as Charlie has lost a tooth and is expecting a visit from the Tooth Fairy.  As the family all settles down for the night, Murray clumsily enters the Greening home and overhears Annabel make the wish for her father to get the role in the play.  But because Murray is on a tight deadline with another commitment, he is forced to leave prematurely, with the promise that he will grant her wish at another time.

That very night, Hortense (Dee), the head of all the fairy godmothers in North America holds an annual meeting of all the fairies in the vicinity - a meeting that the clumsy Murray misses because he is late.  Of course, this means that Murray is one of the only fairies to keep his wand, as all of the other fairies had to turn theirs in at the beginning of the meeting.

But this turns out to be a blessing in disguise for Murray, as a former fairy godmother turned evil witch named Claudia (Turner) interrupts the meeting, casts a spell on Hortense that effectively nullifies her powers, and with help from her accomplice Boots (Plummer) steals all of the wands of the other fairies at the meeting, intent on becoming the most powerful wizard in all the world.

There's just one problem.  Claudia didn't take all the wands.  Murray's is still unaccounted for.

And as it so happens, Annabel finds Murray's wand and fully intends on finding a way of returning it.  Unfortunately, Charlie ends up finding the wand too and snaps it in two.  Annabel tries to fix the wand, but after almost getting in trouble in class, she crosses paths with Murray.  And after a series of adventures in which Murray's broken wand accidentally sends both Annabel and Murray to the state of Nebraska, Charlie and Annabel try to enlist Murray's help to make their father's dream come true.  Unfortunately, Murray accidentally transforms Oliver into a statue. 

Now it becomes a race against time.  Can Charlie and Annabel save Oliver from becoming a statue permanently?  Will Oliver's wish come true?  And can they stop Claudia from using her evil powers?

I'm sure you probably know how this will end up, but I won't reveal it here.

But I do have some trivia for you all.

1 - This was the final film for director Michael Ritchie.  He passed away in 2001.

2 - This was also one of Mara Wilson's final movies.  She would make a couple of more movies into the year 2000, but after that, she retired from acting.  Though she does have her own blog (which you can read HERE).

3 - Robert Pastorelli sadly passed away seven years after this film was made - in March 2004.

4 - Teri Garr has a small role in the film as Rena.

5 - The movie was released on July 11, 1997.

(Okay, so the movie was sorely lacking in trivia.)

So, two movies down, eight to go.  And in the next entry on the list, we're going to see how it took a serious accident for one man to become more involved in his children's lives...

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