The Midas Touch — A review

It was just sitting there in the bargain bin.

Warning! Spoilers aplenty ahead!

So there I was in the checkout at Wal-Mart, when I looked at the bin in my right and there was this movie. It might have said “You’re a TF fan, aren’t you? You want to know if anyone gets turned to gold in this? Well, you’re just doing to have to buy me and find out.” It was only five dollars, so, why not?

It took me several years to actually watch the thing. I looked it up on IMDB, and found that it was made in 1997, and it was apparently a joint production by the USA and Romania. I didn’t have terribly high hopes for it, but I was pleasantly surprised.

A 12-year-old boy, Billy Bright, is an orphan living with his grandmother, who has a bad heart. Billy is also perpetually bullied at school by Leon, and his best and only friend is Hannah, a girl in his class. The bully forces Billy to break into the home of the rumored town witch and steal her hourglass. Confronted by the witch, Madame Latimer, Billy is given a wish. Wanting money so he can buy his grandma a good heart, Billy wishes for The Midas Touch. Billy is supposed to be a smart kid and should know The Touch is nothing but trouble! Madame Latimer even warns him of what he should already know. But he still asks for the Midas Touch. (It should be noted that the story of King Midas, to the best of my knowledge, has not gotten the Disney movie treatment save for a Silly Symphony

We soon find out that Billy’s Midas Touch is very selective. It can only be activated, apparently, by his right hand’s index finger. He goes around touching doors, door frames, his bicycle, dishes, clothes, all kinds of things. None of them go gold. The only thing that does turn gold is his pet hamster, and a book.

When Leon and Hannah realize Billy’s power, instead of getting as far away from Billy as possible, they try to help him, though Leon’s main objective is making money off the trash that Billy golden-izes. Leon takes it to a pawn shop where the brother and sister who realize what the kids have plot to steal things. They eventually follow Billy back to his home, and steal a solid-gold statue — Granny, who Billy accidentally turned to gold earlier.

So how are the transformations? The Touch starts with a golden spark from Billy’s finger, and then the metallicizing spreads over the body from the point where Billy touched it. We don’t see the transformation for Granny, he casually brushes his hand against her as he leaves the room. When he comes back, Granny is golden, and he panics.

Billy himself is turning to gold, apparently a side effect of the wish/curse. His teeth turn to gold, and he starts to feel stiff. They break into the town library (it’s after closing hours) to read up on how to cure the curse, and learn that Billy has to turn everything gold back to what it was, something he can do with second touch, and then bathe himself in a local, polluted river. And, to make matters worse, the pawn shop owners have melted Granny to liquid gold!

The sister who co-owns the pawn shop gets the golden treatment, which terrifies her brother so much that he faints. (The intellect of the pawn shop owners is just a little below that of the crooks in the original Home Alone movies, and they generally get what’s coming to them.)

Hannah and Leon are spared The Touch in the movie. Madame Latimer did something to Leon to change him from bully to nice kid, a change still in effect at movie’s end. And Billy does plenty of touching with his friends. It would’ve added to the movie’s tension had Billy turned Hannah to gold and had to turn her back. Perhaps Ashley Lyn Cafagna, the actress who played Hannah, didn’t want to undergo the process that would’ve made her a golden girl.

In all, The Midas Touch isn’t a bad movie, and those whose fantasies lean heavily to thoughts of metallacizing others will probably be able to use the movie as a launching pad for their fantasies. You may want to see if it can be streamed online. And, should you find it in a bin at Wal-Mart, there are worse ways to spend $5.00.

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