Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus and 2012

Directed By: Sebastián Silva

Starring: Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann, Juan Andrés Silva, José Miguel Silva, and Agustín Silva

With all that's going on in America these days, it might be time for a little vacation.  Regardless of your perspective on the array of events and issues of the day, I'm sure you can agree that it might be time to get some distance, perhaps in the form of international travel.  While we all can't just hop on a plane and leave given are busy, often hectic lives, a film might just do the trick.  A movie can sweep us away from reality for a couple of hours and give us some semblance of distance.  That's why I was so curious about director Sebastián Silva's Chilean comedy Crystal Fairy.  Unfortunately, it doesn't give the relief we necessarily need.

Visiting a friend in Chile, Jamie (Michael Cera) goes to a party one night.  While on the dance floor after trying various forms of Chilean weed, he observes a girl dancing fancifully and badly around the room.  It doesn't help that she's not particularly attractive.  To save her from embarrassing herself, Jamie approaches the girl who goes by the name of Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffmann) and does what he can to stop what he rightfully perceives to be a slow-motion train wreck.  In his moment of sympathy, he invites Crystal Fairy to join him and his friends the following day.  They're going to find the "magical" San Pedro cactus.  They want to cook it and extract the mescalines from it to achieve a transformative, euphoric experience out in the Chilean desert.  Jaime may have made a mistake inviting her.

With all types of Chilean weed and San Pedro cacti filled with mescalines, Crystal Fairy is a movie with no shortage of drugs.  That being said, Sebastián Silva's adventure comedy is not all about flying high in that friendly sky.  The hallucinogens are just the minutiae of the story.  At the core of the film, Silva crafts a juxtaposition between two types of people — those who rush through life and don't necessarily appreciate it and those who enjoy life day-by-day, step-by-step.  Michael Cera's Jaime represents the former and is an American tourist who wants his wishes and agenda realized immediately.  Gaby Hoffmann's Crystal Fairy represents the latter, the exact opposite of Jaime.  She's an aloof, carefree girl who is enamored with the little beauties in life.  This juxtaposition is fairly obvious throughout the movie, and Silva is clearly a proponent of stopping and smelling the roses.

As our lead actors, Michael Cera and Gaby Hoffmann give decent performances.  Playing into the juxtaposition Silva creates, these two give us easily understandable characters.  For his part as Jaime, Cera is an annoying American tourist bent on instant gratification.  Whether being overly aggressive in attempts to buy a San Pedro cactus or being the annoying jerk rushing the group to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it, Cera gives real meaning to his character's moniker "pollo" (chicken).  He hits the mark in playing this irritating character.  For her part as Crystal Fairy, Gaby Hoffmann is equally skilled in portraying this relaxed character that relishes in her eccentricity.  In merrily gathering her magical pebbles, advocating her strict diet upon the group, and nonchalantly gracing a group of guys in the nude, Hoffmann's Crystal Fairy consistently defies conventions in a carefree manner.  Hoffmann brings this free spirit to life quite well on camera.

The theme is clear.  The performances are fine.  Nonetheless, there's something missing from Crystal Fairy, entertainment value.  I found myself hardly laughing throughout the movie.  I recall chuckling twice while viewing it.  For a comedy, this is unacceptable.  Sebastián Silva needs to be able to connect with his audience and make them laugh.  Because he doesn't, Crystal Fairy is simply not that entertaining.  Everything can be fine and dandy in the way of performances and themes, but that's all irrelevant if a movie is not entertaining.  This is the film's fatal flaw.  It doesn't help that the final portion of the movie doesn't flow naturally and feels a bit forced.
All in all, Crystal Fairy gets a 0.09% rating.  I respect what Silva is trying to accomplish here and the message he's trying to send.  I just shouldn't have to fight to remain attentive to his message.  His movie should hold my attention on its own.  Have a few pisco sours with this one.