Crystal Fairy

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Crystal Fairy Movie Poster Image
Offbeat, well-acted dramedy about search for hallucinogen.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 98 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It's enveloped in the quest for a hallucinogenic substance, but there's a message about the idea that a shared adventure can be quite a bonding experience. Also, the movie promotes the idea of not judging a book by its cover.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jamie's actually pretty boorish and inconsiderate and very entitled. Crystal Fairy has a bigger heart, but is she authentic? Champa, Pilo and Lel, are warm and open, balancing the other two, who sit at extremes.

Violence

A group of women accosts a tourist in a square and the men who come to her rescue. They're very aggressive about asking for money, pushing and shoving. There's frank talk of what a dominatrix does for her customers. A man needles a woman to the point that it verges on bullying. A character talks about a rape, and it's a horrific, affecting scene.

Sex

A woman jokes about having an orgy. She also walks around stark naked for a significant chunk of the movie, the camera lingering at times, in close-up. Men's backsides are also shown. A man talks to two prostitutes about their job. Revealing photos depicting people in sexual situations are briefly shown.

Language

Language includes "damn," "s--t," and "a--hole."

Consumerism

Ford, Mitsubishi, Lays, and other brands make brief appearances.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The plot revolves around the hunt for the San Pedro, a cactus that, if cooked for a long time over low heat, takes on seriously hallucinogenic properties. Party guests smoke weed and snort cocaine, and one of the characters does so much that he can't sleep. Some beer and liquor-drinking at a party.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Crystal Fairy is an offbeat dramedy about men and women whose weaknesses are revealed, often harshly, during a camping trip laced with mescaline. It's a fascinating -- albeit mature -- study of human behavior and group dynamics. Expect nudity (full frontal for women, back view for the men), some swearing ("s--t," "a--hole," etc.) and plenty of scenes with characters indulging in all sorts of substances, including cocaine. Indie fave Michael Cera stars.

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What's the story?

Jamie (Michael Cera) has traveled to Chile not for the views or the people -- though he does like his roommate, Champa (Juan Andrés Silva). Jamie's on the hunt for the ultimate high via the San Pedro, a cactus that, when cooked, acts like mescaline. At a party, he meets Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffman), a free-spirited woman who's into crystal, New Age rituals, and transcendent experiences. High on cocaine, Jamie invites her on his quest, one that was meant only to include Champa and his brothers, Pilo (Agustín Silva) and Lel (José Miguel Silva). Crystal's appearance upsets the balance of the group, but it's Jamie who ends up most disturbed by it all.

Is it any good?

CRYSTAL FAIRY's success is very dependent on how -- and by whom -- the titular role is played, and Hoffman peels back the proverbial onion with her performance. Each aspect of the character is a layer that fits like so much tear-inducing skin. She angers, irritates, charms. You think she's a type and then discover she's not. Her Crystal is a unique concoction of her (and the writer's) own making. And Cera is a revelation, too. He's unafraid to shed any of the charm that afflicts the socially awkward, adorable misfits he's portrayed in the past. He's fearless, and we're all the better for it.

The entire ensemble, in fact, is excellent. No one is out of sync, including Sebastian Silva, who directs the enterprise with a sure touch that's unflinching and non-judgmental; he's a keen observer of what happens when two people who seem so different are revealed to be alike in so many ways. They're angry and limited and dealing with it the best way they know how. Ultimately, this road-trip movie is quite a trip. You never quite know where it's going or what will happen when it gets to its destination. (The beginning feels a little forced and wobbly, painting Jamie a little too pointedly, but no matter.) And it's gorgeous to watch, especially a joyous frolic on the beach that runs in slow motion to the tune of the melancholy "Two for the Road." You want to reach that beach. You want to be part of that moment. You want to go on that trip.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what type of movie Crystal Fairy is. Is it a road film, or some other offshoot? Does the film twist that subgenre into something else entirely?

  • How does the movie depict substance use/abuse? Is it glamorized? Are there realistic consequences?

  • Why do you think Jamie and Crystal Fairy collide? Are they very different, or perhaps too much alike in ways they don't want to be?

  • Is Jamie a bully? If yes, why? If not, why not? Does he exemplify a type of tourist who repels locals?

Movie details

For kids who love offbeat movies

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