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Now You See It... (2005)

A budding producer searches for the country's best young magician.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Allyson Miller (as Alyson Michalka)
Amanda Shaw ...
Zoey Cunningham
Ms. McCallister (as Deneen D. Tyler)
Pat Hazell ...
Danny's Father
Danny's Mother
Madame Susette
Stocker Fontelieu ...
Professor Maas
Don Brady ...
Doctor French
Chris van der Walt ...
Ryan Price


Professional magician Mystic Max hosts a reality TV show. It allows the winning three teams of minors, would be-TV directors and cameramen and the best young magicians some of them present, to go on to a final competition at Hollywood's Magic Mansion. Pushy nerd Allyson Miller was lucky enough to 'discover' Danny Sinclair, who performs unseen tricks with stunning surprise, yet often lacks any confidence. In between the competition tests, Danny goes searching for the mansion's secrets, hidden by founding magician Antonio De Milo. Finding those is only part of a confusing confrontation in which Max's part is unclear. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis






Release Date:

14 January 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Agora Você Vê  »

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Production Co:

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Did You Know?


The only magic tricks that were not actually performed by the cast were the ones involving generated special effects, such as the floating card trick that Max uses to rate the first trick the students perform. See more »


Backstage before the final trick, when Allyson is trying to convince Danny to take the ring off, Danny's lip movements do not match the audio when he ends the conversation by saying, "I won't do it." See more »


Cedric: Now you see it... now you don't.
See more »


Do You Believe in Magic
Written by John Sebastian
Performed by Aly & Aj (as Aly & AJ)
Courtesy of Hollywood records
See more »

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User Reviews

Patches of clunkiness, but still slightly recommended
29 March 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

As reality television shows are all the rage in the early 21st Century, this film posits an interesting fictional one: "The World's Best Kid Magician". Adding to the novelty, the producers are hiring "kid producers" for individual segments. Each kid producer's job is to find then follow around a candidate for the best kid magician. Allyson (Alyson Michalka), a smart, perky (maybe too perky) teen, has been hired as one of the segment producers. We follow her as she tries out a succession of horrible kid magicians before finding Danny Sinclair (Johnny Pacar), who at first seems like another disaster. It turns out that he has ability but just can't control it. Will he be able to hone his craft and win the show? And just how does he do his mind-boggling yet "accidental" tricks?

While the premise is awfully interesting, this is one of Disney's lesser live action films. However, as I think most Disney films (live action as well as animated) are spectacular, a lesser Disney film isn't too bad. There are a number of problems, but I ended up giving Now You See It . . . a 7, or a "C".

As I often prefer to do, I'll get the problems out of the way first. Director Duwayne Johnson (who has been an editor on three David Lynch films, including Blue Velvet (1986), and who directed three episodes of the "Twin Peaks" (1990) television series--an odd pedigree for a Disney helmer) makes two moves that do not work very well. One is obvious--parts of the film seem like a reality show, complete with the cheesy music that those usually have, and the over-dramatic dilemmas and "challenges". We could argue that the intention was to spoof such shows, but those sequences do not play very satirically. They just seem like an especially low budget reality show. Maybe this stuff would work for you if you're a fan of such shows, but I tend to hate a lot of them (I've only liked the Andy Kaufman-like practical joke ones, which seem much more mocking of the genre than Now You See It . . . does).

The second problem for me, although this was much slighter, was that as an extension of the reality show mentality, Dunham shoots a few sequences in a faux documentary cinéma vérité style, ala The Blair Witch Project (1999). Most of the material closest to that style (such as the kids walking down the hall towards the "secret chamber") is very brief, and some of it even works, but the interview-style bumpers of Allyson seem too much like telling instead of showing.

The production design is quite impressive. I love idea of the "Magic Mansion", which is where the bulk of the film is set. (A similar setting was also used to great effect in Clive Barker's 1995 film, Lord of Illusions.) Especially the library, and the secret room in what amounts to the mansion's "dungeon", accessible only through a bank vault-styled door, have a strong Harry Potter vibe to them.

The magical performances, while occasionally banal, were just as often intriguing and well staged. Besides, some of them were supposed to be banal--the idea is that these are mostly inexperienced young kids on the upward slope of the learning (and skill) curve, after all.

The overarching plot, which involves a few twists and which is occasionally quite nefarious, is very well written by Bill Fritz, who was a story producer and story editor on the legitimate reality shows, "Fear Factor" (2001) and "House Rules" (2003), making him an apt choice.

The film is also well acted by the two principals, Michalka and Pacar. The third principal is Frank Langella as Max, who is at least very bizarre and interesting here. I couldn't recall seeing Langella since 1979's Dracula (at least I hadn't seen him in a starring role), so suddenly seeing him 25 years down the pike was strange in itself, now that he's much paunchier and he's adopted a tight-cropped, graying Anton LaVey look to accommodate his receding hairline. As Max, he tends to have an odd smirk, maybe a smarminess, which comes across as fairly campy/cheesy at first but that turns out to be appropriate for the character in retrospect. However, it seems a bit inexplicable why the other people interacting with Max on a regular basis wouldn't think he's a bit loopy. So maybe Langella is being a bit over the top and hammy, just not in a scenery-chewing way. But, I like those qualities. Heck, I thought that Jon Voight should have won an Oscar for Anaconda (1997)!

While it's not one of the better Disney live action films, Now You See It . . . is without a doubt one of the more unusual ones. It even has some interesting subtextual layering of the appearance/reality distinction that's the heart of magic. Enjoyable despite its flaws, you shouldn't miss this one if you see it airing again. It would also be worth picking up on DVD if it makes it to that format and you are a huge Disney fan, as I am.

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