Miracle
review by KJ Doughton, 15 February 2001

2002 Women in Cinema Film Festival

Dennis P., the spunky hero of Miracle played by Stefan Pagels Andersen, is introduced as a swaggering white rapper. For this Danish variation of a barely teenage Vanilla Ice, the tough black sweater and Fred Durst baseball cap canít hide his many insecurities. As we follow this skinny kidís mournful, angry lyrics, we come to realize exactly what it is that disturbs Dennis. Itís the delayed onset of manhood. "Iím hiding something that nobody knows," goes his explanatory rhyme, "I see no pubes when I check my hose."

The buck-toothed youth has other concerns as well. Like the distraught Howie of L.I.E, who tight-roped precariously above Long Island Expressway traffic on an overpass beam, Dennis tempts death as a way of mourning a recently deceased parent. Venturing onto the roof of his motherís apartment, the boy stumbles over its shingles where his father slipped and fell during a foolish bout of partying. Meanwhile, mother (Sidse Babett Knudsen) trades in her routine as a dance teacher to hibernate in bed, complaining of a migraine, but Dennis knows better. Sheís depressed, and he shares her sorrow, despite the companionship of best buddy Mick (Sebastian Jessen), and a potential romance with cute schoolgirl Karen Elise (Stephania Potalivo). Meanwhile, Dennisí mental health appears frayed around its edges. Like a chronic schizophrenic cheeking his Clozaril, the troubled boy gasps as a guardian angel (Thomas Bo Larsen) materializes. Sporting Pegasus-sized wings, Edgar Winterís palid complexion and Liberaceís flamboyant style of dress, this luminescent being pops into Dennisí life offering spiritual advice and guidance.

Miracleís prepubescent protagonist also takes a feather from Bjorkís cap, drifting into colorful hallucinations when the shi*t gets too thick. As a condescending teacher named Mr. Sandstrom (Peter Frodin) makes a mockery of Dennis, denouncing the tike as "my favorite retard," the entire classroom morphs into a Mexican fiesta, complete with maraca-shaking schoolmates and cha-cha music. Sandstrom takes center stage as a wide-eyed, frenzied grasshopper, decked out in a flowery purple shirt like Ricky Martin and trouncing around like one of The Village People gone salsa. Another freakout musical number involves the aftermath of a lie. Out for a night of grocery shopping and desperate to attend a boozy after-school shindig with Mick and Karen Elise, Dennis fibs to mom about joining his mates for a sober study session. Suddenly, his mother is swathed in shocking-green and orange garments, while tap-dancing box boys leap over food displays, soup cans, and six-packs of mineral water. The garish display of music is like an acid-drenched, amped-up variation on The Grinch, as Dennis is chastised for his dishonesty.

All the while, heís miffed to behold that Karen Elise is falling in love with cool-guy Mick. "A woman can be a knife in the back of a manís friendship," warns a kindly deli owner as the two buddies engage in a subtle competition for the cutieís precocious charms, before counseling Dennis to take matters up with God. Soon, our saddened little Dane is huddled in a chapel, praying to the Man Upstairs. "I know itís not a big problem, compared to what else is going on in the world," he acknowledges to the Almighty, "but I want pubes." Before you can say "Spinal Tap," another whacked-out musical extravaganza is underway, complete with sequined dancing girls, blazing rock musicians resembling an army of David St. Hubbins clones, and a chorus of grandmothers. "God heard your prayer, while winging through the air," confirms Dennisí guardian angel, as the whole decadent entourage continues their glam-rock strutting amidst religious statues and stained glass windows.

Taking pity on the twelve-year-old, Dennisí celestial friend grants him an "angel license for performing moderate miracles." Soon, the youth is zapping lightning bolts from his fingertips and conjuring forth the power to summon puberty, cheer up his mom, and win back the love of Karen Elise. However, life throws curve balls to even the most well intended spell-casters, and Miracle concludes as Dennis discovers that the best things in life emerge from unforced spontaneity.

A jaded cynic will wince at Miracleís goofy, uninhibited spirit, but if one lets their callous guard down long enough, this quirky fairy tale gets under the skin and softens the heart. Surrender to this colorful patchwork quilt reminiscent of a kitschy, underage Strictly Ballroom, and appreciate its refreshingly playful, smile-inducing attitude.  


Directed by:
Natasha Arthy

Starring:
Stefan Pagels Andersen
Stephania Potalivo
Sebastian Jensen
Sidse Babett Knudsen
Peter Frodin

Written by:
Kim Fupz Aakeson

Rated:
NR- Not Rated.
This film has not
been rated.

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