A MIdsummer Night's Dream

Cast (in credits order)
Kevin Kline .... Bottom
Michelle Pfeiffer .... Titania
Rupert Everett .... Oberon
Stanley Tucci .... Puck
Calista Flockhart .... Helena
Anna Friel .... Hermia
Dominic West .... Lysander
Christian Bale .... Demetrius
David Strathairn .... Theseus
Sophie Marceau .... Hippolyta
John Sessions .... Philostrate
Roger Rees .... Peter Quince
Max Wright .... Starveling
Gregory Jbara .... Snug the Joiner
Bill Irwin .... Tom Snout
Sam Rockwell .... Flute

        William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream has been remade with the same characters in a new setting. The new setting is Tuscany, Italy in the 19th century. One night will change everything for the better in the lives of 4 young people.

        The story is a tale of lovers and fairies. The Duke is getting married. On eve of his wedding a case of dispute is brought to his chambers. The dispute is over an arranged marriage Hermia and Demetrius. The problem is that Hermia loves Lysander but her tyrant father does not approve. He demands justice and the fulfillment of the marriage. The Duke says by the next new moon, either she marries Demetrius or dies. Then we meet the crazy Helena (Calista Flockhart), whose love for Demetrius is unrequited. She is angry because both men are fighting over Hermia but no one loves her.

        We then meet the weaver/wannabe actor Bottom (Kevin Kline). He gets involved in this film when the Duke has a contest for the best play in honor of his wedding. The play is written by Peter Quince and is casted with a bunch of locals. The play is called "The Most Lamentable Comedy, and Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe". They are just 5 villagers who want some recognition.

        Switch to the magical forest in which the fairies live. There is the queen of the fairies, Titania and the King of Fairies, Oberon. I don’t think they are married. They have many lovers’ quarrels though. When Titania rejects him, sends his servant Puck to find a flower that was hit by Cupid’s arrow so he can play a trick on Titania. At the same time, Hermia and Lysander decide to run away together. Also at this point, Helena chases Demetrius into the forest. Also at this time, the 5 villagers are practicing their play in the forest. This leads to much confusion.

        The confusion comes mostly from Puck. The potion makes you fall in love with the first person you see. Puck is told to put the potion on an Athenian (a human). But in the forest, there is more than one. He puts the cupid’s potion on Lysander, which makes him fall in love with Helena, by mistake. Then to correct this, he puts the solution on Demetrius who also falls in love with Helena. Then Oberon puts the potion on Titania. Puck turns Bottom into a half-human/half ass. Then they put Bottom in front of Titania, who falls in love with him. Confusing huh, I thought so.

        After this mess, all is made well by Puck and Oberon. I won't ruin the couples for you if you want to see this movie. Then comes the best part of the movie, the play. The play is completely botched. Everything they plan is screwed up; it is very funny.

        The movie was very confusing. It is probably because the crunched a longer play into a shorter one which is true of most remakes (excludes Branaugh’s 4-hour Hamlet). It is also seemingly forced. The performances were fine, nothing really extraordinary. The best performances came out of Kline and Tucci, who I consider the two main characters. There are too many people in this movie, and not enough time for all of them to show their talents. I also thought Everett had a good performance as Oberon. Calista Flockhart seemed like she was playing Ally McBeal in Shakespearean times.

        I have never read the play so I don’t know what else goes on it, but I have a feeling that when it’s done in full it makes more sense. The scenery of the forest, kind of Eden like, and the fields of Italy were beautiful. Tuscany was probably chosen because of the unharnessed beauty of its never-ending fields. What I do know is that there were some major differences between this movie and the play. In this movie, everyone uses a bike, bike’s are not around during Shakespearean times. My major problem was that the bikes had lights that were activated by switches, this was not available on bikes in the 19th century. The bikes are used to add some action, I guess.

        You know what, I just got bored with this movie really quickly and lost a lot of interest whenever Tucci and Kline were not on screen. Tucci is one of my favorite actors whose last directorial attempt, The Impostors, was very weak. Here he is lively energetic and weasely, he’s absolutely perfect. Kline plays Bottom very well. He seems like a natural as a bad actor and I think he is a natural at it. One minor performance I liked was by Sam Rockwell as Flute. He had to play the female part in the play with Kline; he was very funny.

         Here is the important point: did I enjoy A Midsummer’s Night Dream? Except for the actors and parts I mentioned, NO. It was a boring, unintelligible mishmash in which the point of the movie was lost. They got a great cast but then Fox probably said it couldn’t go past two hours. So some of the plot was cut out for some pretty scenery shots. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was not a dream to me and is not really worth seeing. I give it 2 stars.

Written by: Joe "Buscemifan"
Reviewed on May 14, 1999
Running Time: 115 minutes
Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexuality and nudity.

Midsummer Night's Dream
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