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Although a few years late to the party, Canadian Harry Potter cash-in The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens tries its damndest to get all the parts in place. It has a boy who with no clue he is actually a wizard, his friends, the girl who knows seemingly everything and the clumsy, lesser-than-Billy boy, and even a benevolent Dumbledore stand-in, as portrayed by wrestler Roddy Piper. Piper is the only real reason I bothered with this movie, as it looks like kiddy treacle, and in fact is, but if you cast the Hot Rod as a kindly old wizard I’ll have to give it a look on principle.

And, indeed, Piper is really the only enjoyable aspect of Billy Owens. No one in the film can act outside of him, though Piper appears to be trying to take the acting burden of the whole cast upon himself. His intensely hammy overacting, while possibly stoned out of his mind, against the wooden reading-their-lines performances of the rest of the cast is as jarring as it is amusing. His flailing about, trying to save his every scene from sinking, is pretty funny. He also grows a spotty, graying goatee in lieu of Dumbledore’s traditional immense white whiskers, and the movie outfits him with the goofiest hat in the community theater’s wardrobe but none of that makes “Rowdy Roddy” any more wizardly.

Outside of this you get a plot about another ancient wizard, who happens to be a teacher at Billy’s school, trying to resurrect a dragon in the town’s namesake river. This process pollutes the river, threatening to also destroy the town. The know-it-all girl relates this somehow to global warming in the worst move a schlock movie can make: adding a message. It comes up more than once, in a vain attempt to add depth to the fluff for reasons I cannot fathom. I personally hate this kind of faux important posturing. It ruins what could otherwise be entertaining rubbish and insults those who sit through it. Oh, and almost everyone in Billy’s life are secretly wizards, though they all rely on him as the “chosen one.”

I’ll try to give the movie a little praise- I found its obsession with the number 11 mildly charming. Billy turns 11 on November the 11th, part of being the mystically selected hero of the film. Other than this, I can’t say much for it. The credits bear the hallmark of ultra-low budget filmmaking, in that the star, the man playing his father and many, many special thanks all bear the same surname. Given that most of the movie takes place in Billy’s home, the elementary school or just running around aimlessly in the snow, I’m guessing they were its chief financiers as well. And that Roddy Piper owed them a favor or something, which is a nice ace to have up your sleeve. Especially when Wrestle Mania rolls around. 1 star, though it’s likely more fun if you are 11 yourself.

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One Comment

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