The Spell (1977)
Reviewed on 2012 March 17
This is a totally silly Carrie wannabe about a heavyset (more on that later) girl who, after being picked on one time too many, seeks revenge.
Rita (Susan Myers) is a quiet, smart girl who also has the final nail in the coffin of adolescence: she’s tormented for being “fat”. This is set in 1970s California, so compared to her slim, tofu-eating classmates she seems heavier than she really is; put her anywhere in today’s Chicago and she’s just a kid with a few extra pounds. She’d be fine if she smiled, and the weight issue everyone’s so fixated on would probably fix itself if her family would shut up about it and just eat Mediterranean food. Her snotty peers still treat her like she’s Moby Dick in a gym suit.
One day while the little darlings are climbing the rope — that wonderful thing second only to the dodgeball in negating confidence — an “accident” occurs. Rita is thrilled and while she insists it was an accident, her smile insinuates she somehow had something to do with it. Rita has some psychic gifts and lots of new targets for them. Now she’s smart, quiet, heavy-set, and to the chagrin of her mother Marilyn (Lee Grant), weird. Rita never really gets a break, because her father blatantly favors her pretty, golden-haired sister Kris (Helen Hunt). Rita loves her mother and the feeling is mutual; the rest of the family (and pretty much anyone else who looks at her cross-eyed) need to clear a path. Now, she just needs a mentor to show her how to use her gifts.
If Carrie was fresh Hostess® stuff, this is stale Little Debbie®-grade fare. The climax…wasn’t. I could see it coming, and it was still hilarious. The Seventies may have been Hollywood’s second golden age, but it had more that its share of dreck too. At least parts of this were funny.
One chocolate morsel and some decent pizza.