This week I was invited to a press round-table event for the new animated musical Lucasfilm, Strange Magic. At the event, I got to sit down with two of the films stars, Elijah Kelley and Meredith Anne Bull. For those that are unfamiliar, a round-table is a group interview where a small number of press individuals sit down with one or two of a film’s cast or crew and freely ask them questions about their involvement with project. I mention this is because at this particular round-table, the press group I was sitting with was unique to what I am typically used to. This time, in addition to other adult bloggers and online writers, many of them had brought along with them pint-sized companions: their kids!
After the first initial shock of being surrounded by these kid reporters and their blogger parent, I quickly relished the opportunity because I let the reigns go and got an insight into the things that kids were most interested in asking of these stars.
As soon as the Elijah Kelley, who plays the small yet fearless elf Sunny, and Meredith Anne Bull, who voices the adorable and boy-crazy fairy Dawn, sat down. One of the kid reporters, an adorable be it precocious young boy, shot his hand high the air to ask the first question. From that moment, I knew this was going to be a lot of fun.
“What was your favorite part of the movie?” the boy asked. Elijah Kelley, who plays the small yet fearless elf Sunny, responds, “The intensity of the Bog King! And how tough he is even though he’s still a little guy at heart that wants to be loved.” Next Meredith Anne Bull, who voices the adorable and boy-crazy fairy Dawn, chimes in, “The music and singing. Even when they’re singing angry.” She laughs and the young boy immediately follows-up with, “What is your favorite song?” Elijah and Meredith both appropriately say “Three Little Birds” which is their first duet in the film.
While neither Elijah nor Meredith had any input as to which songs were in the film because “[they’re] not that powerful,” we did learn that all of the voice actors sang many more songs during the recording process that never made it into the movie. In fact, the filmmakers looked at over 400 songs be before settling on the final 50. Yes, you read that correctly, 50 songs! The precocious young boy from before even impetuously commented, “I didn’t know there are 50 songs in the movie?” And while there aren’t actually 50 full length songs that are sung by the characters, there are lots of little song snippets where they’re weaved into the background of other songs or weaved in between scenes. So those with an acute ear will certainly catch the guitar riff from Heart’s ‘Barracuda” during an early chase scene or hear Lady Gaga’s opening chant from “Bad Romance” being harked by an army of male faerie folk. The music of ‘Strange Magic’ is certainly the most prominent (and surprising) feature of this film. The sheer amount of music and musical numbers are so prevalent that, at times, they’re a bit overwhelming.
However, it is nice that songs used in the film span the decades. To this point Elijah commented that “the variety of songs is a real testament to the creative mind of George Lucas, who has decided to use songs from different generations, which makes it a great family film.” I couldn’t agree more. Hearing tracks that my parents listen to juxtaposed with songs that I love then sprinkled with recent top 40 hits at least kept the bombardment of music dynamic and unexpected.
Later during the round-table, a well-spoken kid reporter raises his hand and reads from a notecard to ask, “How do you think you relate to your characters the most in the movie?” Elijah, taken aback by the kids preparedness comments, “Well you’re obviously smarter than me, I’ll just say that right now.” The kid smiles assuredly and Elijah continues, “he’s resilient, he tough, and he doesn’t let fear overtake him. He overcomes all these great obstacles because he wants to get the love potion for his friend Dawn and he doesn’t let anyone stop him from doing that. It also helps that he has a little crush on her. So through all of that stuff, its about a real connection, its about the strength of a person and not what you see or how they look. I think Sunny is a great example of that.”
Now as our time with Elijah and Meredith was coming to a close, and the all kid reporters’ list of questions dwindled, my favorite young reporter reporter from before filled the silence by asking Elijah who his favorite character was. Without hesitation he exclaimed, “My Character! It better be your favorite character too.” After the room all had a good laugh, the young boy asked if Elijah could recite one of his favorite lines from the film. “Ahh!” Elijah shouted. “My character says that a lot.” He certainly does running the full emotional spectrum. Whether its an “ahh” of surprise, terror, or a one that comes from being in love, audiences can catch ‘Strange Magic’ in theaters January 23rd.