Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. I didn’t even realize these guys were making a movie. I haven’t had a chance to see their new series together, but I really love PEEP SHOW, the series they star in, and I’m up for whatever they’re doing next. After THE PRESTIGE and THE ILLUSIONIST, will MAGICIANS turn out to be a gem as well? Let’s see what our first spy thinks:
Hey Harry The name is Johnny Haffatta and I recently got given screener tickets to the movie 'Magicians' starring David Mitchell, Robert Webb and Jessica Stevenson. This was my first screener so I was relatively excited. When me and my friends got there we were greeted with the usual "not all the special effects are complete, the music isn't correct and it is being projected from HD Video" though I did not notice any of this. This movie was is a British production starring some of Britains most funny comedians (the stars of 'Peep Show' and 'Spaced'). Anyway the movie was very good, it was like a comedic version of 'The Prestige', and on release the two movies will be compared. It started of with the two main characters Harry (David Mitchell) and Karl (Robert Webb) performing a magic act with Harry's wife as the beautiful assistant. After the act Harry discovers that his wife is cheating on him with Karl, they then all have to do a magic act together where in a very funny scene Harry accidentaly decapitates his own wife (can anybody say 'The Prestige'?). Four years later and the magicians have grown apart and have lost their fame but they decide to enter a magic contest against eachother for one last shot at glory. It is a very funny movie with great characters and many funny themes (including a delightful sub plot on how psychics are not magicians and they bring the whole proffesion down). Seeing as it was a screener there were some bad bits, a horrible father/son plot line and an idiotic penis gag, but all the rest was fun I highly recomend. Johnathan Q Haffatta
Okay. Sounds like the film’s still a little rough, but with that cast, I’m intrigued. What did our next spy think? Well, let’s just say he’s not as impressed:
Hi Harry, Greetings from London. Hope you're well, big fella. Got the chance to see a test screening tonight - MAGICIANS, the first big screen outing for TV comedians David Mitchell and Robert Webb (Peep Show, That Mitchell and Webb Look). Before the movie started, we were told we were watching a work in progress, no titles, temp music, etc. The Story Mitchell and Webb play magicians who fall out when Webb sleeps with Mitchell's wife during a break in their stage act. At the finale of the show, Mitchell lops his wife's head off during the guillotine trick. Four years later, having gone their separate ways, they're both leading miserable unsuccessful lives. Mitchell gets friendly with Jessica Stephenson (from Spaced) whilst Webb has only found friendship with his agent, Otto (Darren Boyd). When the two former magicians hear about a Magic competition, they make up, break up, then end up competing against each other for the prize...and a shot at regaining their former glory! The Review Given the recent run of Magic films (The Prestige, The Illusionist), you'd think Magicians would be an easy target for comedy...so it's amazing (and disappointing) how the makers of Magicians managed to miss the target by so much. The rest of the audience seemed to laugh more than me, but not much more. Lots of stony faces and embarrassed muttering when we all shuffled out of the cinema. The film's main problems? Most importantly, it wasn't funny enough - bad news for a comedy. Most of the jokes fell flat. There were more laughs in United 93. The characters weren't interesting or funny and they weren't placed in original or clever situations. Secondly, the movie looked cheap. What was the budget? Did it jingle? It looked cheaper than most things you'd see on TV. Most of the movie takes place in a hotel and the rest of the "sets" literally look like they were filmed in a the back room of an office. 99% of the movie takes place indoors and, for some reason, the filmmakers decided to shoot the film in scope - they have nothing to fill the frame with! Magicians was directed by a guy called Andrew O'Connor, who used to be a game show host in the 80's. He now runs a successful TV production company but he's never directed before. And it shows. The screenplay was written by the guys behind Mitchell and Webb's brilliant Peep Show, but their first feature script is, well, shite. It has so many problems. For instance, at the start of the film, the Magicians aren't even that famous so when they lose everything...they haven't actually lost that much. If they were, it would give them a reason to want to be back on top. Any attempt at basic character development feels awkward and forced. The competition the Magicians enter isn't exciting or grand or funny - it's old-fashioned and flat. Again, probably not helped by its cheapo production values. And considering this is a British movie, it's peppered with odd Americanisms. Characters say stuff like "Pussy", "Dickwad" and "I've got wood". Didn't feel right. So, how are Mitchell and Webb? They're okay, but look a bit awkward. You want to like them, but their characters are dull and predictable. It's a far cry from any of their TV work. Judging by this film, they're not ready for the big screen yet. Jessica Stephenson was as likeable as ever, but was stuck playing a dumb character. Peter Capaldi's competition organiser got a few laughs but Darren Boyd, who plays Webb's agent, Otto, was terrible. I couldn't work out what I found more annoying - the character or the performance. Whenever he was on screen, I just wanted to smash his face in. Anyway, wish I had more positive things to say. Really disappointed. Not sure how they're going to solve all of the film's Kong-size problems. If it was up to me, I'd rewrite and reshoot the whole damn thing and start all over again. Please feel to edit my rant and call me The Movie Goblin!