Review: The Butterfly Circus (2009)

The Butterfly Circus (2009)

Genre: Drama

Length: 20 min.

Director: Joshua Weigel

Writers: Joshua Weigel, Rebekah Weigel

Stars: Eduardo Verástegui, Nick Vujicic, Doug Jones


Grab a tissue and some popcorn, we’re going to have our lives affirmed right here and now. And we’re going to love it.

Will is a limbless, mal-treated circus gimp who is discovered by Mr Mendez, the ringmaster of The Butterfly Circus.

When they first meet, Mr. Mendez leans in close to Will and tells him, “You are magnificent.” Will spits right in his face of course. What a horrible thing to say! When Will is informed by the Illustrated Man that he has just spit in the face of the Great Mr. Mendez of The Butterfly Circus he stows away in their truck.

Will wants to perform in The Butterfly Circus. Mr. Mendez is not having it. “There is nothing inspiring about a man’s imperfections on display,” he says. Will is still welcome in the group and quickly becomes a fixture, a mascot of sorts. But Will pines away in the background. His heart’s desire is to join the other performers in the big top.

Mr. Mendez comes to Will’s side during an impromptu performance in a dustbowl town. Will gazes longingly at the dancers and acrobats.

“Splendid aren’t they? The way they move, their grace. They are astounding,” Mr. Mendez says. He continues, “but you, cursed from birth, a man if you can call him that, who god himself has turned his back on.”

“Why would you say that?” Will cries.

“Because you believe it,” Mr. Mendez says, “but if you could only see the beauty that can come from ashes.”

All of the performers in the Butterfly Circus are misfits and cast offs.  All rescued and empowered by Mr. Mendez. That’s not to say that Mr. Mendez is a Deepak Chopra, warm and fuzzy kind of guy, actually he can be kind of a jerk. Tough love? Nah, I think he’s just got a nasty, mischievious streak in there somewhere.

He leaves Will to cross a stream by himself. “You’ll figure it out,” Mr. Mendez says off- handedly. Will nuts up and goes for it. And he almost drowns. The troupe freaks out and dives in to rescue him, but Will’s head pops up in the middle of them. Turns out he can swim. Should have called him Bob. Heyoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! (Aw, c’mon. This is me here, you knew it was coming at some point.)

Will’s facility in the water turns out to be the key that allows him to join them as a performer. What can he do that involves water and requires no arms and legs? Are you serious? Yes. Serious. Can he pull it off? Will he? I won’t spoil the surprise, but if you are in any doubt as to whether Will becomes a spectacular performer and effects his own redemption you have not been paying attention at all. He does. It’s that kind of film.

The Butterfly Circus is beautiful, lush, and gritty. I didn’t want to stop looking at it.

Will is played by Nick Vujicic. I recognize this dude. (That’s not special effects like on Gary Sinise in Forrest Gump. He really is missing his arms and legs. ) Nick is a popular motivational speaker, preacher and author. And he can actually act. He’s not on the level with the greats, but he’s competent, and he gets the job done.

There are few missteps in The Butterfly Circus and they are minor. There are a few flat or inconsistent bits and it’s hard to say where to lay the blame, acting? Editing? Directing? Who cares really? It’s a great bit of film.

However, Mr. Mendez does sound like he’s straight out of Bananas, the Woody Allen film. Cracked me up a couple times. I kept hearing, “Deed joo anjoy jor flight?” in my head. And I believe he dropped his accent in a scene for a moment. No big.

The Butterfly Circus is heart warming, life affirming, and a little too precious. I know what’s going to happen from the moment I see Will and meet Mr. Mendez. But I still loved it and I still teared up in a couple spots. Shoot me.

The Butterfly Circus is a film tailor made for Nick Vujicic. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was written for him. Nick’s life is encapsulated in the story of Will, every aspect a metaphor of Nick’s own struggle and redemption and the inspiring affect he has on people. The symbolism of the chrysalis turning into a butterfly is a fitting one. He goes from being a withdrawn freak, to trying unsuccessfully to fit in, to taking a monumental leap of faith, soaring above his own limitations and coming fully into his own.

Go Nick! Uh, I mean, Will!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch a zombie flick and try to wash off some of the preciousness. My douchey rating:


1 Comment

  1. Charmed Life Films

    We just keep watching this film over and over – absolutely wonderful and something to aspire to, if your bag is to make beautiful films – and why shouldn’t it be? ‘Lovely’, in the best possible way – CLF :-)

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