August 10, 2007, - 2:16 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
I know you were dying for my review of the mostly-panned “Rush Hour 3” and “Daddy Day Camp,” but I didn’t screen those. The only new release I’m reviewing today is “Stardust.” I simply wanted to take a break from complete duds, this week. (Life is short.) G-d-willing, I’ll have a full slate of reviews for next week’s new releases, many of which I’ve already screened.
While “Stardust” appears to be a fairy tale to which you can take your kids, don’t. The movie started out very well, but then degraded into a mish-mosh featuring a cross-dressing gay pirate captain of a flying ship (Robert De Niro wearing women’s garments and pink boas) and other themes that simply aren’t suitable for the kids this movie should have been meant for. Some will disagree, citing the adult-targeted Neil Gaiman graphic novel from which the movie was taken.
And that’s too bad. I liked the narration (like you are listening to a real fairy tale being read to you.) The sets and visuals of the movie are stunning and colorful. The tale is entertaining and engrossing enough, if way too long (at 2 hours and 10 minutes). There is a lot of magic and transformations–a billy goat who is a man, unicorns, inns that arise from the ground in an instant, a Princess who lives as a slave and is often transformed into a bird by her master, etc. It is charming, but the charm is diluted by the misplaced silliness.
Some have compared “Stardust” to “The Princess Bride,” a somewhat apt description. But unlike “Princess,” this one is strictly for teens and adults. And I’m not sure why they’d want to see an ornate, elaborate eye-candied fable that really appeals more to the younger set, kids.
The plot: Tristan is the son of a man in the boring English city of Wall. He’s the product of a teen-age one-night stand his father had with a secret princess in the forbidden Kingdom of Stormhold, only he doesn’t know it. Tristan is obsessed with Victoria (Sienna Miller), a shallow, beautiful woman who looks down upon him. He promises her he will bring her a falling star from the sky, if she will marry him. He sets out to Stormhold to try to find the star, which turns out to be a young woman (Claire Danes).
Tristan and the star try to get back to Wall, but they are being pursued by others, who also treasure the bounty of possession of a star. The King of Stormhold, on his deathbed, promises his Kingdom to the one of his three surviving Prince sons that captures the star and something she has in her possession. An ugly, aging, wicked witch and her two witch sisters sick to slaughter the star because her sacrifice will return them to youth and good looks.
There are a lot of stars in this and a lot of great things to look at. Too bad it’s unsuitable for your entire family and gets mixed up in too many hackneyed twists–like the cross-dressing ship captain–which don’t belong.
Tags: Claire Danes, cross-dressing gay pirate captain, Day Camp, Debbie Schlussel, King, Neil Gaiman, Prince, Princess, Robert De Niro, Sienna Miller, Stardust, The Princess Bride, Victoria