Sundance 2013: “Crystal Fairy & the Magic Cactus and 2012” – Review by MovieManMenzel

Its all about Drugs, Cactus, and Crystal Fairy

Whenever I go to a film festival, I usually take some chances with a few films that I know nothing about and hope for the best. Last night at the opening night of the Sundance Film Festival, I decided to see a film called Crystal Fairy & the Magic Cactus and 2012. Obviously from the title you know the film is going to be strange but I decided to give it a go since it starred Michael Cera as well as Gaby Hoffmann, who I haven’t seen in years but was a big fan of as a teenager. What I got from this film was something entertaining but also certainly very odd.

Michael Cera plays a fish out of water American named Jamie who is partying it up in Santiago, Chile. At a party, Jamie along with three Chilean friends (Juan Andres, Jose Miguel, and Agustin Silva) get really high on cocaine and decide that tomorrow they should leave Santiago and go on a quest to find a San Pedro cactus to cook and drink on the beach. They all agree on the idea but before they leave the party for the night, Jamie sees a girl named Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffmann) dancing and decides to ask her to join them. The next day, Jamie gets a call from Crystal Fairy and unaware of how she got invited, Jamie tells his friends that she is about to make a surprising appearance with them on their journey. A lot of strange situations ensue…

I am typically not one who appreciates comedies about drug use because I normally don’t get the humor within the film, however, with Crystal Fairy & the Magic Cactus and 2012 I found myself somewhat interested in what was going on and even had a laugh here and there. The film which was directed and written by Sebastian Silva was one that I felt was oddly engaging and entertaining although nothing spectacular but then again this is a drug movie after-all. The reason why I felt I enjoyed this film as much as I did was not because of Michael Cera’s obsessive and annoying character Jamie but rather the oddball but quite brilliant performance by Gaby Hoffmann.

It was Gaby Hoffmann as Crystal Fairy who made this film a real treat to watch because on the surface her character just seems like an over the top hippie but as the film goes on there is a lot of depth to her as a character. There are two fireside chats in the film which involves Crystal trying to get the boys to share their fears and open up about who they are. I found these scenes to be oddly touching and powerful. The way that Hoffmann played this role was both comedic and often dramatic at the same time. At one point, shes walking around naked and is being called “Crystal Hairy” by Jamie and then at others you realize she is just a lost soul trying to find her way. It was truly fascinating to see a character like this in a film about characters just trying to get high.

Michael Cera does a decent job in the film, however, his character is just very obnoxious and got on my nerves here and there. There are a few moments where he shines though especially with the “Crystal Hairy” scene as mentioned above along with an emotional scene at the beach near the end of the film. This is the first of two films playing at this festival where Cera and director/writer Sebastian Silva team up. The other film is Magic Magic which is getting a lot of buzz around the festival. I think Cera and Silva make a good pair, I am just hoping that the other film won’t have Cera giving such an annoying performance even though somehow at times he was still likable.

It is also important to point out that this is truly an example of independent film-making. This movie was shot in about 12 days and definitely looked and felt like it had a shoe string budget. While the film isn’t perfect as it really felt at times like certain scenes went on a big too long especially in the second half of the film, the movie is oddly entertaining and has an odd amount of depth for a film about a group of guys and a hippie chick trying to find a magical cactus.

At the end of the day, I am glad that I took this drug infused journey with Cera, Hoffmann, and Silva. It was rather fun and surprisingly entertaining as a whole. While its not a film for everyone, I think if you enjoy drug comedies then this is a good one to check out. I personally feel that without Hoffmann as Crystal Fairy this film would have been a disaster since she turns out to be the heart and soul of the film and really gives this film the layers it needs to not be a run of the mill “let’s get high” comedy. I anxiously await seeing Silva and Cera’s other pairing Magic Magic later on in the festival.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Crystal Fairy & the Magic Cactus and 2012 is a 7 out of 10.

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