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Jamie (Cera) is a boorish, insensitive American twentysomething traveling in Chile, who somehow manages to create chaos at every turn. He and his friends are planning on taking a road trip north to experience a legendary shamanistic hallucinogen called the San Pedro cactus. In a fit of drunkenness at a wild party, Jamie invites an eccentric woman -- a radical spirit named Crystal Fairy (Hoffmann) -- to come along. What is meant to be a devil-may-care journey becomes a battle of wills as Jamie finds himself locking horns with his new traveling companion. But on a remote, pristine beach at the edge of the desert, the magic brew is finally imbibed, and the true adventure begins. Written by
Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus and 2012 follows a group of Caucasian backpackers as they rummage the lands of Chile in search of a sought-after cactus that apparently holds the power to give you an incredible high. The leader of the pack is Jamie (Michael Cera), who is assisted by several friends and the spirit named "Crystal Fairy" (Gaby Hoffmann) in order to find the renowned hallucinogen.
I was not under any chemical reinforcement while watching Crystal Fairy, and thankfully, neither was the film. I question how its quality is affected if a curious soul does decide to use any drugs while watching the film. From my viewpoint, stone-cold sober at 7pm, this was a pretty stale film affair. It's a film that lacks a compelling narrative, interesting characters, and finds itself consistently unfunny and unmoving in terms of attempting to get us invested in this situation.
Films like this irritate me because what unfolds is an almost unfairly subjective review talking about the lack of anything interesting about the film and relying heavily but unintentionally on generalities. The film features a lot of talking, a lot of drugging, some instances of nudity, and a lot of characters racing back and forth trying to enjoy their not high. I suppose if you've hung with a group of friends - or have friends - like this, your interest in the film will skyrocket past mine. Films like this seem more enjoyable when relatability with characters is brought up on the scene or experience in similar situations within the film. Frankly, I have neither, so the film is like watching a stranger's home movies during last weekend's house party.
This is the exact same way I felt while watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas several months back. The constant depiction of drug hallucinations and acid/mescaline-induced trips wore me down to no end. At least with that film I had the benefit of director Terry Gilliam's eclectic, cluttered visual style, along with the benefits of Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro's character acting skills. With Crystal Fairy, I have only the charming blandness of Michael Cera's performance and one laugh every half-hour to keep me marginally in-tune with the picture. Director Sebastián Silva doesn't infuse any particular visual-flare to give us any kind of connection to these witless gringos. It's so cold it almost makes Chile's climate seem like the arctic.
On a final note, I kept pondering what exactly Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus and 2012 could've been for me to enjoy it. For one, it could've invited more character personality into the mix. Two, it could've had some slick visual-hallucinations capitalizing off the talents of a young visual effects artist. And finally, perhaps the little things such as cinematographical and musical touches would've provided a pleasant look at Chile's culture. Instead, we get a forgettable piece of of cinema that seems to prefer catering to the viewing habits of the few instead of many others'.
Starring: Michael Cera and Gaby Hoffmann. Directed by: Sebastián Silva.
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