Review: My Sweet Monster

I wasn't sure what to expect after the movie My Sweet Monster was recommended to me and I found out it was released last year. There are very few movies I've enjoyed that came out within the past five years or so. Then again, there haven't been many animated princess movies for a while in general. My Sweet Monster is a Russian CGI princess musical with a plot that feels like it could have been released in the '90s with environmentalist themes and a wacky setting. It's on par with lower budget animated films like Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest or Charming. I appreciate that it was a musical, which is becoming less common these days, and that it isn't pandering to political themes, probably due to cultural differences in Russia. It isn't one of the best animated films I've ever seen, but it's refreshing for something that came out within the last year.

My Sweet Monster Poster

My Sweet Monster is about a ditzy princess named Barbara, voiced by Haylie Duff, who wants to marry a prince she only knows about through exchanging letters. The person who delivers those letters turns out to be a complete jerk for no discernible reason. Not only does he break the postal code by reading her mail, but he has the gall to try to take over her kingdom! After he blackmails the king into forcing Barbara to marry him, she runs away from the wedding in a move we've seen far too many times this year. When she goes into hiding in the woods, she stumbles upon a beast-man named Bogey and his friend Rabbit. The three are cruel to each other at first but learn to get along, also for no discernible reason. A lot of things in this movie just happen, and you're supposed to accept it because Mother Nature said so or something. There were a few clever twists, but it wasn't enough to make up for the rapid shifts in tone throughout.

The thing that baffled me the most about this movie is the setting. It seems like the filmmakers had a meeting to decide whether they wanted it to take place in medieval times, a futuristic steampunk world, or 1920s New York City and couldn't pick one so they decided to go with all three. It was very creative to have robots in a European-style castle and busy city streets with traffic and stoplights in the same world, but it was also thoroughly confusing. Every time Barbara entered a new setting, it was like walking onto a new film set. The robot technology was somehow powered by nature, which seems a little contradictory when they were trying to push environmentalism on a world that relies on technology. At the very least, I can honestly say I've never seen a princess story that spans so many different environments.

As confusing as this movie was, there were things that I liked about it. It was a charming original story that drew elements from various fairy tales and animated films without copying any of them directly. Barbara was a lot to handle, but I loved her passion for Prince Edward, and her singing was pleasant, which is more than I can say for the villain. The revelation about Prince Edward reminded me of the film The Fault in Our Stars, which had a good message about being careful not to place people you've never met on a pedastal. I also liked that she wasn't another "strong female protagonist," though she did have a strong rebellious streak, especially at the beginning when she cut her hair and dress before a major social event just to make her father upset.

Overall, this was a cute and harmless fairy tale that's safe for kids and doesn't have a strong political message like so many modern films. Princess Barbara is not exactly a role model, but she acts like a typical teenager, which is rare to see these days in modern media. Instead of introducing a character who was trying to be stronger than most people are physically capable of, this had a more grounded message about having a realistic mindset when it comes to chasing your dreams and learning to be happy with what life gives you. I just don't get why the mailman was such a jerk. Delivering mail for a living isn't that awful of a job, is it?

Comments

Sugar said…
I'm glad you found my recommendation interesting! I see that we share feelings...it's not perfect but it has enjoyable things and it's very different from everything that comes out lately.
The villain in my opinion was just a nasty kid-friendly sexual harasser, I saw him as a stereotype of a nasty man with a lust for power who obsesses over the princess and wants her as an object.
The guy checked a lot of boxes: read her email without permission, was uncomfortably close when they first met, wanted a kiss, blackmailed her, etc.
I think that with a more careful script and a better world construction it would have gone from being a "nice" movie to a very beautiful one. In Russia the Orthodox Church is very important so mother nature acts as a god here, appreciate that she was a kind goddess who rewarded Barbara's faith and fidelity instead of an angry goddess. Also as the princess at the end she apologizes to her father for her behavior and what she did with her dress, a break from "girls are always right".
I will see what other animated offers Russia has, the cultural differences could make their movies more enjoyable for me.
Anonymous said…
Since you're seeing princess things from other cultures, have you tried "The princess Knight"? It is a short manga by Osamu Tezuka (it is easily available on Amazon) and it has an animated series in which the same author participated in 52 episodes. In Japan it gave birth to shojo as a genre.
It's pretty obvious that the author took a lot of inspiration from Disney.
Lisa Dawn said…
I'm not familiar with The Princess Knight, but it sounds a lot like Revolutionary Girl Utena, which is one of my favorite anime series!
Anonymous said…
I'm really interested in this movie, and there are more animated princess movies from Russia coming, like 'The Warrior Princess' or 'Nutcracker and the Magic Flute'. Unfortunately, it is obviously not a time to support Russia financially, no matter in what way, so it might be a long time before I will see any of them, as I'm not into torrents or illegal streaming. I'm curious about your reviews, as we seem to have a similar style and opinions on many films.

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