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Laramie Movie Scope:

A slightly fractured fairy tale

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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August 12, 2007 -- “Stardust” is a bit like those slightly fractured fairy tale skits they used to show on TV's Saturday Night Live. It's familiar, but with a funny twist. Comedy turns out to be the saving grace of this film about a young prince on a magic quest to win the heart of a pretty girl. It reminded me of the original “Shrek” movie in that the object of the quest changed over time into one of romance. In each case, a fellow sets out on a journey but ends up at an unanticipated destination.

In this case, the handsome young man, Tristan (played by Charlie Cox of “The Merchant of Venice”) sets off on a quest to retrieve a fallen star in order to win the heart of his fickle girlfriend, Victoria (Sienna Miller of “Factory Girl”). In doing so, he enters the magical kingdom of Stormhold and finds that the star has been transformed into a beautiful girl, Yvaine (Claire Danes of “Shopgirl”). He is determined to drag her back to his girlfriend to prove his love for Victoria. It turns out that others are after Yvaine and the precious necklace she carries, including several princes, for whom the necklace is key to the throne, and an evil witch, Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer of “Hairspray”) who seeks to cut out the heart of Yvaine in order to gain eternal life. The paths of these various characters cross a number of times as Tristan and Yvaine head back to Tristan's village. Along the way they meet the captain and crew of a strange flying ship which collects and sells electricity from lightning bolts. Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro of “The Good Shepherd”) is a transvestite who adopts a pirate's persona in order to maintain appearances. He befriends Tristan and Yvaine and helps them along their way.

In contrast to most fairy tales, where there is a prophecy and the hero is destined to succeed, in this one the role of hero is up for grabs. Tristan is a hero not because he was born to be one, destined to be one, or because of anything his parents did, but because he behaves like a hero. His heart is big and it is in the right place. He thinks of others before himself and he acts the way he does out of love. This is a refreshing change. This film does not take itself seriously. It is filled with humor. The joke is on the heros as well as the villains. Nobody is safe from the barbs of this film's wit. The film also succeeds because of solid performances by all the actors, particularly by Pfeiffer, who is both menacing and comic as the principle villain. De Niro is also very good in a very showy role. Production values are solid with lavish sets and good special effects. All in all, it is an enjoyable romp that works as a fairy tale, a romance and as a comedy. It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2007 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)