While “Teen Witch” was originally conceived as a female version of “Teen Wolf,” it subsequently morphed into a film of its own. Complete with several dance numbers, including a spontaneous rap segment, it’s a truly unique, and unbelievably cheesy, experience.
15-year old Louise Miller (Robyn Lively) pines away over high school football star, and overall stud, Brad (Dan Gauthier). However, Brad and popular cheerleader Randa (Lisa Fuller) remain an item, leaving Louise to merely dream of Brad, which she quite literally does, notably during the opening credits.
But after a bike accident, where Brad incidentally almost runs Louise over, her life changes. After running off the road, Louise seeks refuge in an odd house where she meets proclaimed seer Madame Serena (Zelda Rubinstein). Serena reveals that Louise is actually a witch, and her powers will reactivate on her 16th birthday, conveniently in one week’s time. Though initially skeptical, Louise begins to notice strange happenings. Together with Serena, Louise starts transforming her life.
Certain movies fall into the so-bad-it’s-good category, others are simply bad. “Teen Witch” can’t quite figure out where it falls on the spectrum, and that’s a running theme. With a budget of $2.5 million, “Teen Witch” reaped a measly $27,843 at the box office. Watching the movie, it begs the question where the modest budget went. The answer: probably licensing songs for the soundtrack.
“Teen Witch,” like an awkward teenager, never quite comes into its own. Despite the numerous dance numbers, it’s not exactly a musical. Yet song and dance segments often last an uncomfortably long time, such as the nearly three minute “I Like Boys” scene, easily the goofiest movie moment since the hot tub part of “Madman.” Then there’s the infamous “Top That” impromptu rap. Spontaneously breaking out in song occurs countless times throughout the movie, presumably in an attempt to reach a younger generation. However, it’s completely unrealistic. “I’ll never be hip,” laments Louise’s best friend Polly (Amanda Ingber). Hip doesn’t quite seem to be the best way to describe the clumsily dancing dudes she’s watching.
The plot is fairly standard fare. Louise transforms from the shy outsider to most popular girl in the school, though questions the reality she’s created. Are her peers, including Brad, attracted to her naturally, or through magic? It’s a message praising uniquity. While that’s an admirable element of the film, it’s a bit preachy at times and too heavy-handed.
Nevertheless, the unintentional campiness of “Teen Witch” creates the abundant charm which it radiates. Like Louise once she brews up a popularity potion, it’s impossible to not love “Teen Witch” for its goofy dance numbers, preachy plot, and awkward characters. Simply, it succeeds as a fun romp. High school was tough enough without having to cope with newfound magical powers. Scenes such as Louise turning her brother Richie (Joshua Miller) into a dog are ridiculously entertaining. Louise becomes quite creative in using her magic.
“Teen Witch” may not be a great, or even good, film from a technical perspective, as its box office profits testify. Nevertheless, it’s unlike any other film. One coming of age narrative, with a side of musical, and a hearty dose of campiness, one thing’s certain: after watching “Teen Witch,” you’re never gonna be the same again.