TNB Night Owl–The Fairy King of Ar

Wheel of cheese cut and stacked in front of a stone wall. Photo by Alexander Maasch.

Tonight we continue the Month of McDowell with a movie where the best thing is either him or his dog. THE FAIRY KING OF AR aka BEINGS(1998) is a movie that means well, but at a running time of 93 minutes, it ran 85 minutes longer than it needed.

A huge chunk of the movie’s beginning is Granny reading to Evie and Kyle from a book about Tumbeleen the fairy and her arranged marriage with a giant. Long story short, Tumbeleen hid with the other fairies on the Isle of Man so she wouldn’t have to get married. That covers the first five minutes. It’s a cute scene, and it’s obvious the kids adored their grandmother.

The next scene cuts to after Granny is dead and the family is on their way to claim Granny’s old mansion on the Isle of Man. The kids appear to be ambivalent about her demise, especially when the fairies appear to Evie as they drive through a tree lined street toward their new home. I have to mention here about the CGI-created fairies. A lot has been said about the dead, soul-less eyes in the animated children’s feature THE POLAR EXPRESS (2004). The humanoid creatures in THE FAIRY KING OF AR make the POLAR EXPRESS characters look beyond lifelike. These are the kind of unemotional creatures that haunt children’s nightmares.

So Granny’s dead and kids could care less because fairies! There’s even a gold mine on the premises! But there’s a really cranky caretaker (Malcolm McDowell) with a cute dog. He wants the family to go away. He tells them stories about demons in the mine. The family thinks he wants to scare them away because he wants the gold for himself…despite the mine having been boarded up for years and no gold available for general consumption. The kids realize that it’s not demons buried but fairies and they need to dig them up. Then Dad gets diagnosed with Unnamed Fatal Disease. The kids realize that, if they dig up the fairies, the fairies can cure Dad’s Unnamed Fatal Disease. Stuff happens, the town learns not to be afraid of outsiders and fairies, Dad gets fixed, and gold abounds.

There isn’t much in the way of character development. Stuff happens. Characters talk about stuff. Then other stuff happens. Weird fairies appear. Movie is over. There’s a decent enough cast (not just McDowell, but Corbin Bernsen plays the father, Glynis Barber plays the mother, the kids while unknown actors did a decent enough job with the script they were given).

Some people have defended the movie in online reviews saying it was a sweet kid’s movie, and thus didn’t need fancy-schmancy things like plots or characterization. As the parent of a kid, I say that’s a cop out. Kids get just as bored with dull movies as adults. Rifftrax does a decent spin on the movie and, if you’re a Rifftrax fan, it’s a fun watch. Otherwise, here’s the YouTube link but don’t say I didn’t warn you:

Question of the night: what was your favorite book as a child?

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