“You have the power to make anything you want happen.”
The Scoop: 1989 PG-13, directed by Dorian Walker and starring Robyn Lively, Zelda Rubinstein, and Dan Gauthier
Tagline: To her, trouble comes super-naturally.
Summary Capsule: On her sixteenth birthday, an unpopular girl finds out she’s a witch.
Eunice’s rating:… Huh. I must’ve really dug that jacket when I was a kid.
Eunice’s review: The last time I watched Teen Witch, start to finish, I was in single digits. As you can expect, my memory was quite different from the actual movie. How I remember it is a girl found out she was a witch and wanted to become a star so she got a singer (who I totally remembered being mall queen Tiffany) to give her this denim jacket that was her talisman.
Yeah, that is so not what happens (well mostly).
Louise (Robyn Lively) is a nerd and an outsider, she has two friends, bohemian dresser Polly and Ms. Malloy the drama teacher, and her fawning admirers from the Latin club. Other than them though everyone else pretty much hates her including the teachers. (The part where Mr. Weaver reads Louise’s diary page out loud is actually a little painful.)
Everyone hates her that is except her crush: BRAD. Brad (Dan Gauthier) is the captain of the football team, handsome, gets the lead in the school plays, beautiful smile, that guy everyone likes. If he has a flaw it’s that he’s more concerned with being popular than standing up to his nasty mean girl head cheerleader girlfriend to do the right thing. While Louise dreams about Brad, it’s more like he kindly pities her. Le drama! Add to this her cheesy family and criminal fashion, and her high school life is in a rut.
Then a week before her sixteenth birthday Louise meets fortune teller Madame Serena (Zelda Rubinstein). Only Madame Serena is the real deal, and tells Louise she is too. After her birthday, Louise finds a strange pendant, accidentally wishes away a terrible blind date, turns her brother into a dog, and a few other weird things happen. Going back to Serena she discovers that not only is she a witch, she’s the reincarnation of a rather powerful witch.
There was a run of ’80s teen comedies based around traditional horror, thanks in large part to Teen Wolf. Cashing in on the popularity of that, Teen Witch is a rather bizarre and silly take on witches, more fueled by disjointed revenge fantasies than an actual story. But it all comes down to outcast nerd girl (despite the fact she’s pretty) wants the crush, the popularity, the clothes and accidentally leaves behind her best friend, family, and true self, and sorts it all out in time for the school prom.
The thing that jumped out at me the most is the (horrible, awful) musical numbers. Now Teen Witch is not a musical, even with the numbers in there I still wouldn’t call it a musical. There’s a group in Louise’s school that does (horrible, awful) rap and when the cheerleaders do a “new cheer” in the locker room before PE called ‘I Like Boys’ I was really confused having completely forgot about there being any of that kind of singing in the movie. It’s so random that I found myself thinking of ”Cause I’m a Blonde’ from Earth Girls Are Easy or the weird group prom dance at the end of She’s All That. Though I can’t decide if my life is more scarred or enriched by having seen the ‘Top That’ romantic rap battle between Polly and the leader of the rap group (It has to be seen to be believed, but let’s just say it starts with her saying how “funky” he is and spirals into ridiculousness from there).
Joshua John Miller is frickin’ creepy. He will always be Homer the kid vampire from Near Dark to me, I kept waiting for him to rip off Louise’s face. While he’s not as psychotically violent here, he may be just a little more spooky.
Miller isn’t the only thing that creeped me out though. I know it’s my 2013 eyes looking at an 80s movie, and maybe this is a little influenced by having seen The Craft. The movie makes a point that Louise makes a decision to not use a love potion on Brad, but she does use a spell to make herself the most popular girl in school after Brad tells her that’s the only reason he’s going out with his current girlfriend. So it’s never really established why Brad likes Louise. Is it just the magic?
It’s not deep, but there are worse examples of teen wish fulfillment fantasy movies from the 80s, and Teen Witch is definitely fun in a goofy way.
- Using a music video for your opening credits, an interesting choice.
- The school play is Jean Giraudoux’s Ondine.
- If you’re like me and think Louise’s blind date David looks like Freddie Prinze Jr. well we’re wrong together. It’s actually Jared Chandler, who also fooled me as one of the college stoners in Feds
- Were tutus really that big of a fashion staple?
- E pluribus unum, Wizard of Oz anyone? Means “Out of many, one” by the way
- The rap battle.
- She throws away the talisman and… nothing changes. Wha?
- That final dance is a total Dirty Dancing ripoff! -only without The Lift
- Teen movie cliche: How can someone always get to the merry-go-round at night after the carnival shuts down? And if these parks are so easy to get into, how do they not ever run into nogoodniks?
Serena: You’re one of us!
Polly: The worst possible thing is happening – It’s like Nightmare On Birthday Street.
Rhet: A roger, a love wand, joy stick, dong, zipper lizard, tally whacker, trouser snake, schlong!
Louise: Ms. Malloy, my life is a walking, talking tragedy.
Polly: Look at how funky he is!
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