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Originally published January 29, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified January 29, 2009 at 4:09 PM

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Movie review

Were the world full of little movies like this one

"Were the World Mine," Tom Gustafson's magical and often enchanting gay musical fantasy, is about a teen (Tanner Cohen) who discovers a magical love potion while in his school's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3 stars

"Were the World Mine," with Tanner Cohen, Wendy Robie, Judy McLane, Zelda Williams, Jill Larson, Ricky Goldman. Directed by Tom Gustafson, from a screenplay by Cory James Krueckeberg and Gustafson. 96 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Varsity.

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What if a teenage boy discovered a magic liquid that, if squirted into an unsuspecting eye, would cause that person not only to fall in love with the first person they behold, but also to instantly acquire a vast array of quotes from Shakespeare? That's the irresistible premise of "Were the World Mine," Tom Gustafson's magical and often enchanting gay musical fantasy, complete with dancing rugby players and a rock-opera finale.

Timothy (Tanner Cohen) is an often lonely gay teen, picked on by the other boys at his extremely well-groomed prep school. (To quote the great Libby Gelman-Waxner on "Dead Poets Society," the boys all look like Audrey Hepburn in a blazer.) Inspired by the drama teacher (Wendy Robie), he joins the cast of the school's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as the fairy Puck. A few squirts of a magic flower later, and suddenly the entire all-male cast is eyeing each other with lovestruck gazes — and the crusty athletic coach falls, hard, for the school principal. The course of true love, indeed, never did run smooth.

Though the movie's idea is inspired, the execution is a little bumpy; particularly, a few of the actors seem to be pitching their performances to the back row of a theater rather than to the camera's intimate eye. But "Were the World Mine" gets by on sheer charm — and on Gustafson's inventive direction, Kira Kelly's elegant cinematography and co-screenwriter Cory James Krueckeberg's whimsical production design, which works wonders on a limited budget. Timothy's fairy wings (made, in a nice detail, by his divorced mom out of her wedding dress) float like gentle cobwebs in the light.

Were the world mine — yes, it's a phrase from "Midsummer" — I'd like to see more movies like this, flaws and all. Gustafson, who based the film on his award-winning short film "Fairies," isn't afraid to let his love for the project shine through. For him, it's clearly a dream come true.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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