MOVIE REVIEW: My Fairy Tail Love Story

Elmo Magalona and Janella Salvador at the My Fairy Tail Love story press conference.
I was among the many people who felt disappointed when Regal Films’ My Fairy Tail Love Story missed out on a slot in the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival. But everything happens for a reason—and now that I’ve finally watched this movie topbilled by Elmo Magalona and Janella Salvador, I understand why my ElNella fam and I needed to wait until Valentine’s Day 2018 for this movie to swim into theaters.

Biases aside, I found My Fairy Tail Love Story to be an engaging film. It traces the journey of Chantel (played by Janella), who goes to the beach with her barkada and falls victim to an ancient curse that turns her into a mermaid. After her transformation, Chantel asks her childhood friend Noah (Elmo) to help her become human again. They put their heads together and determine that true love’s kiss will do the trick.

Noah, who has been in love with Chantel for as long as he can remember, thinks this is his chance to get her to notice him. Unfortunately for him, Chantel has her heart set on getting kissed by DJ Ethan (Kiko Estrada), who charmed her at her 18th birthday party. But although it pains Noah to watch the object of his affections throw herself at another guy, he helps Chantel in her quest to win Ethan’s heart and break the curse.

One of the most striking things about this movie is its fun, funky use of color, which in my opinion deepened the narrative in many ways. My Fairy Tail Love Story director Perci Intalan dressed his actors and sets in the brightest hues possible, giving the whole movie a whimsical feel. Perfect for something inspired by fairy tales, wouldn’t you say?

References to those fairy tales—especially to the Walt Disney version of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid—are sprinkled throughout My Fairy Tail Love Story. But although this movie pays tribute to all the stories that came before and inspired it, it also tries to bring something new to the table. It’s not perfect, but it did a fine job at subverting audience expectations, thanks to Direk Perci’s skillful handling of the material and the cast’s earnest, infectious performances.

For instance, a lesser actress would’ve ended up making Chantel a caricature—grossly exaggerating some of her characteristics while oversimplifying others. But Janella avoided that trap. She made Chantel endearing and relatable while playing her character’s kaartehan to the hilt. On that note, I didn’t feel like I was watching a retread of Janella’s Be Careful With My Heart character last night. Chantel is somewhat similar to Nikki Lim, but Janella still managed to make the former distinct. That says a lot about how hard she worked on creating her character.

In My Fairy Tail Love Story, Janella comes across as a flesh-and-blood Disney Princess, which isn’t surprising. I hope Disney execs get a chance to see this movie, because it might just convince them to cast her as the lead in their next animated feature. She did so well in this movie that I can’t pick just one scene in which she shone. Janella was consistently good as Chantel from beginning to end.

Meanwhile, Elmo also performed well in My Fairy Tail Love Story, but he was stronger in some scenes than in others. He shone in the scene where Noah saw Chantel and Ethan together in a restaurant. Elmo made Noah’s jealousy evident without saying a whole lot. Noah just glowered for most of that scene. Communicating your character’s emotions in a nonverbal way is a tall order, but Elmo pulled it off with aplomb. He’s becoming quite adept at talking with his eyes, if you know what I mean.

Elmo also did well in the scene where Noah chaperoned Chantel and Ethan on their first real date and ended up playing “Be My Fairytale” for them on the piano. That scene segued into another where Noah pouted in the background while Chantel sang with Ethan. I also loved how Elmo handled the scene in which Noah wished he were dancing with Chantel in Ethan’s place. Noah’s pain felt so real to me in that one, I couldn’t help but cry. Good job, Moe! 

I also want to commend Elmo on his doings, which is actor-speak for how one handles props during a scene. I particularly enjoyed how he used a carton of milk and a bowl of cereal to underscore his character’s jealousy even while he insisted he wasn’t jealous of Chantel and Ethan’s budding romance. As Hollywood acting coach Ivana Chubbuck wrote in The Power of the Actor, “Words can lie. Behavior always tells the truth.” And in this case, the truth is that Elmo’s acting has improved a lot.

My Fairy Tail Love Story isn’t your average mermaid story. Granted, it has its issues, but it’s also not fair to say that it endeavors to be nothing more than a bundle of glee and giggles. If you take away Chantel’s fins, you get a movie that not only examines what it means to love, but makes some pretty bold statements on the subject as well. (Case in point: the surprising twist involving Kiray Celis’ character and the much-talked about ending.) That’s why the movie is perfect for Valentine’s Day. It challenges everything you thought you knew about love, not to mention fairy tales.

Bottom line, My Fairy Tail Love Story isn’t perfect, but it’s thought-provoking—and that’s what makes it worth watching. I really hope that after this movie’s success, Regal Films will continue to feature the ElNella tandem. Congrats to the cast and crew on a job well done!


The old Julian can't come to the phone right now.


  1. Wow!maraming salamat sir.i love Elnella so much,and thank you for always supporting Elnella