We Are Wizards

"Bad"

We Are Wizards Review


If there was ever a movie to make somebody regret that they had any familiarity with the Harry Potter universe, it would be the astoundingly irritating Potter fandom documentary We Are Wizards. Josh Koury's smartly-shot but lazily self-indulgent work seems to be attempting to follow in the footsteps of such fan-exploratory films as Trekkies. Unfortunately, it takes a subject of potentially great pop-anthropological interest and turns it into an object of such airtight self-satisfaction that one escapes it wishing never to hear about the boy wizard ever again.

One of the more fascinating aspects of geek culture, both for insiders and outsiders, has long been fans' penchant for self-creation. Particularly through online arenas such as "slash fiction" (in which fans take characters from their favorite novels, shows, or films, and put them through new, imagined scenarios), this sort of obsessive appreciation can at times take on a life of its own.

So it is with the world of "wizard rock," ostensibly Koury's subject here. If you've been present at or seen news footage of Harry Potter release events or fan parties at bookstores, there's a good chance you've seen a wizard-rock band. Brandishing names of varying originality like Harry and the Potters or the Cedric Diggorys, they're composed of bookish young lads knocking out cute, riffy numbers with pun-laden lyrics that reimagine or (lightly, ever so lightly) satirize Rowling's world. Playing before audiences primarily composed of (frequently enthralled) bespectacled preadolescent girls, the bands seem secure in their geekishness and content to have found their niche. They're the kind of musicians who can talk about how they were happy just playing the Cambridge, Mass. library circuit before hitting the (relative) big time.

So far, so good with We Are Wizards. The first unfortunate problem is that Koury doesn't dig into his subject in any way, leaving plenty of questions unanswered, such as how the wizard-rock underground operates or even really why any of its members got into it in the first place. To blur things further, Koury tosses in a few other characters from other ends of the fan-universe like Heather Lawver, the young woman who got into a legal scrape with Warner Bros. because of her Potter fan site The Daily Prophet. Around her story, the film weakly tries to compose a thesis about who actually owns something like Harry Potter, the fans or the conglomerate that filmed the books, but it comes to naught.

Then there's Brad Neely, who made a name on the fan circuit with a CD recording of him reciting sniggering narration meant to be listened to while watching the films with the sound off. Koury's camera is inexplicably enamored with this unimaginative snark merchant, who quickly shifts the film from a state of simple dullness to one of active annoyance. And the less said about the footage of the post-slacker musician couple stage-parenting their two young boys in a painful Potter joke-band called The Hungarian Horntails, the better.

By the conclusion of We Are Wizards, Koury's point is far from clear. The film has tracked a number of species living in the further outskirts of Potter fandom, but failed to locate much of a thread among any of them (except for those connected by playing the same events). There are entire worlds of meaning to be found in this sort of obsessive activity, where one's imagination latches onto that of another and takes it in entirely new directions. But the filmmakers behind We Are Wizards utterly fail to communicate any of these fans' wonderment or deep need for belonging and fantasy. They were either too remote from their subject, or far, far too close.

Watch out or he'll turn you into a newt.



We Are Wizards

Facts and Figures

Run time: 79 mins

In Theaters: Friday 14th November 2008

Distributed by: Brooklyn Underground

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Fresh: 11 Rotten: 11

IMDB: 5.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Gerald Lewis

Starring: Melissa Anelli as Herself, Paul DeGeorge as Himself, Joe DeGeorge as Himself, Henry Jenkins as Himself (as Dr. Henry Jenkins), Heather Lawver as Herself, Matt Maggiacomo as Himself, Caryl Matrisciana as Herself, Bradley Mehlenbacher as Himself, Brad Neely as Himself

Also starring:

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