The least one could ask of a wish-fulfillment fantasy film is a little buoyancy and breeziness. Yet for all its good-natured intentions, Tom Gustafson’s Were the World Mine, in which a put-upon small-town gay teen converts his hopelessly straight town (including his corn-fed jock crush) to the pink team with the help of a magical, squirting purple pansy, is a mostly leaden affair, suffering as it does from a lack of realization and clarity. A film can’t simply be “light as a feather” or contagiously sweet by virtue of its conception, but rather by the fine, clean lines of its craft. And this is no simple matter of budget: oodles of ingenuity have historically been wrung from more impoverished film productions than this one.
Using A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a launching pad (a text one might say at this point, especially in queer-tinged cinema and theater, has been “done to death”), Tom Gustafson fashions a flimsy fable about a high schooler, Timothy (Tanner Cohen), recently out to his classmates and his single mother (Judy McLane), who is inspired by his ethereal, elfin English teacher (Wendy Robie, best remembered in certain circles as the terrifying Nancy Reagan-with-a-butcher-knife “Mother” in Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs) to take part in the school’s staging of Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy of transformation. Of course the magic spills over into the “real world,” but Gustafson so poorly creates visual or emotional distinctions between reality and fantasy (save a handful of borderline trashy, badly choreographed dream sequences) that the whole thing gets bogged down in a repetitive drabness.