Magicians (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/05/2007

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

There are a handful of laughs here, but Magicians is ultimately something of a disappointment, due to a poorly conceived script and an underdeveloped plot.

What's it all about?
Peep Show's David Mitchell and Robert Webb play lifelong friends Harry and Karl, whose magic double act falls apart after a guillotine illusion goes spectacularly wrong. Down on his luck and out of cash, Harry decides to stake everything on winning the prestigious International Magic Shield tournament, but will he be able to train his new assistant (Jessica Stevenson) in time?

Meanwhile, Karl also decides to enter the tournament, posing as a ridiculous psychic called The Mind Monger on the advice of his clueless agent, Otto (Darren Boyd). However, when Karl falls for a girl (Andrea Riseborough) who thinks his psychic powers are real, he has a difficult decision to make.

The Bad
Magicians is written by Peep Show creators Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, so it's doubly disappointing that the film falls somewhat short of expectations. For one thing, it just isn't that funny, despite the best efforts of everyone involved. Similarly, there's a tedious subplot involving rubbish magician Dwight White (Steve Edge) that goes nowhere.

However, the biggest problem is the plot - the publicity seems to be selling the film as a story about Mitchell and Webb as rival magicians trying to screw each other over, which sounds brilliant. Unfortunately, that's not the actual story and you can't help thinking how much funnier it would have been if they'd done that instead.

The Good
That's not to say that the film is a total washout. There are a number of laugh out loud moments and some strong comic performances, particularly the scene-stealing Boyd and Andrea Riseborough, who clearly deserves to be better known than she is now.

Worth seeing?
Magicians raises the odd chuckle, but it's hard not to be disappointed in the overall result, especially given the comic pedigree of everyone involved. Shame.

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Content updated: 21/10/2017 00:18

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