The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens Movie Review–No, I’m Serious.
You know, after looking back over the last five years and seeing nearly half a dozen Harry Potter movies come out (this one will make half a dozen), I’m amazed that there haven’t been more knockoffs. Seriously, it seems like no one in Hollywood is even taking a crack at the boy wizard subgenre…until now.
It’s called The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens, and you’ll be able to find this lump on your video store shelves in just under two weeks, July 21st.
See, Billy Owens lives in one of the oldest towns in the East Coast, Spirit River. And seeing that he’s about to turn eleven–on November eleventh, no less, in easily the biggest example of overforeshadowing I’ve seen in some time. More on that later, but first, the rest of the plot. Harry–I mean, Billy, on his eleventh birthday, is about to discover an unusual item up for sale in a local second-hand shop, one that’s likely going to save both himself and the entire town of Spirit River. Harry–I mean, Billy, in case you hadn’t already figured it out from the opening paragraph, is going to discover that he’s a boy wizard.
And this isn’t where the similarities end either–merely where they begin! Billy has two friends, an underachiever named Devon and a clearly pedantic know-it-all named Mandy. There’s even a school bully who relentlessly pursues Billy, with his two toadies. Imagine how loud and long I laughed when I realized that the school bully had his own Krabbe and Goyle.
The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens is, let’s be honest, a bad movie. The effects are weak even for low-budget, relying on computer graphics, and fairly low-quality CG at that. This by itself would mean little, really, if it weren’t for the sheer aggressive awfulness of the script. Mandy’s know-it-all persona is strenuously overexaggerated–she will bust out lines starting with “did you know…” with alarming frequency. Worse, they’ve put the voice-over narration in Mandy’s hands, and she reads like, well, like a ten year old in class, blasting through lines with little regard for dramatic tension. I understand she’s just a kid, but folks, she’s no Morgan Freeman.
You may think I’m being too harsh on a bunch of kids, but rest assure, the hackneyed acting isn’t just limited to them. The adults can’t swing a whole lot of weight either, and that really doesn’t help matters. The script too, as I said, is a morass of poor writing and terrifyingly bad plot elements. Immortal dragons, mysterious vines, the “death of the river”…frankly, this is just downright horrible stuff on a narrative level. The first time I saw a person sufficiently horrified that the town was being “invaded by vines”, all I could think was: “Does no one in Spirit River own a pair of hedge clippers?”
It’s bad enough that The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens is a Harry Potter knockoff, it’s even worse that it’s an aggressively BAD Harry Potter knockoff. It’d be one thing if this were just a lousy movie, or a boy-wizard movie, but to be a lousy boy-wizard movie is a kick in the junk on literally several levels. A movie that’s both wildly unoriginal AND poorly done can only be called a bad movie, and sadly, no amount of magic is going to change that.