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Some high moments, but mostly a disappointment, I rate it "5" of 10, not bad, not good.
I keep a "list" of movies I want to see, and somehow - I don't exactly recall - "The Magicians" ended up on it. While it had a cute concept, and some good actors, it just didn't "work" for me. A lot of the scenes looked like they were shot on a set, a look not unlike "One From The Heart", that abomination of a film made by Coppola in 1982, entirely on a soundstage. "Magicians" even used cute "roadsigns" on a miniature set looking like a road into Vegas for the opening credits. I saw it on DVD - no digital sound source, no menu, no extras, perhaps the poorest DVD I've seen so far.
The biggest gripe I have with the story is this -- Hugo is a masterful thief, and that's how the movie starts. Then he steals a van for 4 of them to go from NYC to Vegas. The movie ends up with all of them apparently happy, smiling, with no restitution for the crimes. A clear message that it is OK to be a thief, as long as you are charming. To me this is a serious flaw, and part of the reason I can rate it no higher than "5".
The bulk of the movie is about these 4 flawed people getting together to make an act and make it big in LasVegas. Max (Til Schweizer) is flamboyant but without much talent. Hugo (Fabrizio Bentiviglio) is a "loner" who hustles a living as a pickpocket and grifter, has amazing talents but just wants to be left alone. Lydia (Claire Forlani) is the cute, blonde waitress who has "nothing to lose" by quitting her job and becoming a magician's assistance. Milo (Alan Alda) manages magic acts and sees potential, especially in Hugo.
They head out west, and develop their magic act "on the road", usually in the evening at the motel stops. The film is a comedy. The magic act is not very good. The combination of characters is like mixing oil and water. There is a humorous encounter with a cop looking for the stolen van. The actors did as good as they could with the script, but this writer/director is just not up to the standards being set by the better ones. Although this film can be enjoyed by certain people, I believe it has very limited appeal and could not in clear conscience recommend it to anyone.
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