The phenomenon of teen musicals - beloved by actual teens - is a little perplexing. There is just nothing . . . cool . . . about breaking into song and dance routines in daily life. Disney's High School Musical juggernaut and the popularity of the stage show and film version of Hairspray have brought more attention to the teen-centered Broadway hit Spring Awakening, which will be made into a film as well.

Were the World Mine follows the teen musical formula but renders its material with admirable lushness and intelligence. It was a hit as an indie short film before director and writer Tom Gustafson turned it into a full-length musical, so irony and self-referral humor are written into its DNA.

Were the World Mine tells the story of a gay teenager, Timothy (Tanner Cohen), who is attending a private boys' school. He is hazed repeatedly and ruthlessly by his homophobic classmates, but he survives by escaping into fantasy - mostly about the extremely cute Jonathon (Nathaniel David Becker). He also has to deal with his struggling mother (Judy McLane) and friends Frankie (Zelda Williams, daughter of Robin) and Max (Ricky Goldman).

The weakest part of the movie, besides some rather drawn-out plot machinations, is the musical aspect. The tunes just aren't catchy enough to linger or clever enough to stand in for dialogue. It's a welcome addition to the cavalcade of teen-focused musicals, but like a midsummer night's dream, can hardly be remembered the next day.

   - Reyhan Harmanci,
San Francisco Chronicle