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Hmmm...I saw the screening last week in Dublin, and although it was
quite funny, it wasn't "brilliant". I had lots of fun, but there was
just something missing I think. Mitchell and Webb were great (as ever),
Jessica Stevenson, Darren Boyd and Peter Capaldi were also great (as
ever)...but there was just something about it. Too slight? Not enough
meat? No Mark Heap? I dunno. All this talent and - it pains me to say
this - it didn't seem to be much more than the sum of its parts. Maybe
further viewings will reveal more. Now having said that, there were
plenty of great jokes, nuances, the odd subversion, and so forth - not
to mention magic tricks. Despite my minor reservations, it's still a
cut above the rest of the tripe that passes for comedy these days.
Armstrong and Bain have made the leap to film confidently and
convincingly. They still deliver the goods. Go see it! Incidentally,
Jessica Stevenson just gets more gorgeous as time goes on (sigh).
(Notice I didn't mention Peep Show! Surely I deserve some kind of award!)
Oh, and there was a Q&A session with David and Rob after the screening and they were hilarious. Sharp as tacks, took time to answer even the stupidest questions, and hung around long enough for fans to mob them (well, ask for autographs and photos anyway). Great guys.
There has been a sudden stream of movies revolving around magic, of
course there's the obvious fantasy stuff with Harry Potter, Lord of the
Rings, but what I am really on about is movie revolving around stage
magicians. Last October we had the simply amazing Prestige, a dark
movie that had one of the best twists I have ever seen in a movie. Next
came The Illusionist, an inferior movie to The Prestige, but a movie
once again extremely good. So now we have Magicians. Although most
notably there is a huge difference between Magicians and The Prestige
and Illusionist. You see Magicians is a comedy, its not a period piece
like the last two, and this movie in all honesty couldn't give a toss
about magic. Magicians is the first movie outing for Mitchell and Webb,
stars of cult TV Show Peep Show. I personally have never seen Peep
Show, but from what I've seen of the pair on chat shows I can tell that
they are very funny people, and thankfully aren't as one note
comedically like the Little Britain duo are. The trouble with comedians
going into movies is the fact the movies usually fail miserably. This
was proved specifically with last years dire Alien Autopsy starring Ant
and Dec. I was looking forward to Magicians, but was also aware it was
probably not going to be that good. However, what a nice surprise it is
to say that Magicians is a very funny movie. Its hit and miss as times,
and I am still not one hundred percent certain that the storyline
should have been stretched out into a feature length movie, but the
movie itself is very funny. Yet it has one ultimate flaw, its not in
the least bit memorable. Already, just a few hours after seeing it I'm
starting to forget a lot of it. By this time next week I might have
forgotten it completely!
The lead duo of the movie, David Mitchell and Robert Webb are what make this movie great. The pair are extremely talented comedians, and any scene they share together in the movie is a true blessing as they have some hilarious sequences with each other. Unlike Ant and Dec they also seem to work very well on the big screen as well as the small screen. The pair might just be able to make a big break in the movie business, this would be brilliant as the pair are very talented, and with a few more movies in their bag they might just become comedy icons. The supporting cast also very much surprised me, as its the supporting cast who threaten to steal the entire movie from the two leads. Jessica Stevenson is a joy to watch as the dippy assistant, and she gets some of the best scenes in the movie. My personal favourite is a dance scene that is actually funny to watch (yes Spiderman take note, we want dance sequence in comedies, not superhero movie!). Peter Capaldi runs over the hills with the movie as the compère of the magic show, a role that was so brilliantly written. Darren Boyd also has a great role as Webb's agent.
The comedy rate of the movie is pretty high, yet there is still a lot of misses dotted about the movie. The trailer for this movie had me slightly worried since it seemed a bit more child friendly than I imagined, with the notable exception of the "suck my wand" line. Thankfuly the movie is as crude as I wanted it to be. But the movies comedy really sparks when Mitchell and Webb are on screen together. Unfortunately this happens all too infrequently and is one of the major reasons this has got a lower rating than it would have done. The pair have such great sequences together, that when they're taken apart it seems like the movie is desperately filling in a large gap with other characters. Sometimes these characters manage to distract the audience, but it is noticeable at times, and some of the jokes fail quite miserably to hit the right note. Matters cannot be helped when it is unavoidable that the movie isn't memorable. I had a good time while watching the movie, but by the end I became aware that I couldn't remember a lot of it. The comedy never reaches great heights, its a movie full of small laughs and the occasional bigger laugh. But there's nothing here that will really have you rolling in the aisles. In this respect this movie never really suits the talents of Mitchell and Webb as its always noticeable that the actors are funnier than the movie they're in.
Magicians in the long run is a good, solid piece of fun. It features brilliant performances and will hopefully propel Mitchell and Webb's career to greater heights. But its not the best movie for the pair, and its essentially an elongated sketch for a movie. But it'll give you a laugh.
Karl and Harry are magician partners, regularly wooing their audiences
with their brand of mystery and wonder. However two events tear them
apart. The first is Harry's discovery that Karl is having an affair
with his wife. The second is Harry accidentally beheading that same
wife during a mishap with a guillotine. Many years go by and Karl is
still working as a magician but is trying to break into the TV niche
held by David Blaine, Derrel Brown and others of that ilk. Meanwhile
Harry is selling knives in the supermarket to earn his living. With the
Magic Shield coming up, Harry turns to Karl to reunite temporarily and
win the contest. However barely minutes into it, old tensions resurface
and the pair split again to go head-to-head.
It is a little concerning to watch the progress of the career or Mitchell and Webb. I first came across them in the quite brilliant Peep Show, where their delivery was excellent against the strong material. Next I saw their sketch show and, although it was a bit hit and miss, it was still reasonably amusing. Afterwards comes this film which again is a step down even if the move into films appears to be a positive step. The concept appears to offer up potential but somehow the script doesn't really give them the material to work with. For some reason the script keeps them apart too often and gives them romantic subplots (of a sort) to deal with. The film is at its best when they are together, clashing with one another in the awkward and uneasy way they do. However it must be said that these moments are not frequent enough and mostly the film is just not that funny.
The rather British "awkward" humour is OK but not as well done as those used to it will have seen it done other places. Mitchell and Webb are both pretty good when the material is given to them but again, this is not often enough for what they have shown they are able to do. The support cast is full of familiar faces from Spaced, Saxondale, The Thick of It and several other strong British comedies. However nobody really have the chance to shine apart from the wonderfully letchy Edge. Stevenson (now Hynes), Hardiker, Riseborough, Capaldi and others are all OK, but it is the lack of material offered them that limits them.
Overall then an OK comedy but nothing more than that. Viewers get glimpses of what the film could have been or what the cast are capable of and, while these glimpses are occasionally funny they do not make up for the fact that they are only glimpses. Credit to Mitchell and Webb for trying to show that they are much more than just Peep Show actors, but Magicians is not the vehicle that will do that for them.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The problem with Magicians, the movie in which David Mitchell and
Robert Webb make their attempt to transfer from TV to big screen
success (and like so many British comedy duos, fail to do so) is that
it feels like no more than an over-glorified sketch from their TV show.
That in itself isn't necessarily a criticism - it rolls amiably along, with sufficient in the way of plot and subplot interest to hold the interest - but the scale of its ambition seems to fall short somehow. Films don't have to be big to work as cinema movies, but they do have to have an awareness that the medium isn't quite the same. Here, Mitchell and Webb play more or less exactly the same characters they play in Peepshow and, more to the point, one is aware that they are "TV acting" from the very start.
But the story is OK, with uncertainty as to whether the beheading which starts the film is accidental or deliberate until the very end, and there are some pleasing supporting characters (Karl's manager, Jessica Hynes(Stephenson)'s glamorous assistant and Andrea Riseborough's office girl are all people whose company I enjoyed.
All in all, a failure in its attempt to transfer Mitchell and Webb to cinema (in which they are, at least, in good company), but a noble failure which is not without merit.
Mitchell & Webb have done some very funny material in the past. This
film is, at best, mildly amusing.
The premise is amusing, in a black comedy way.
The characters are amusing, occasionally.
The script is amusing, in places.
Individually all of the contributors are capable of so much more and it is disappointing to end up with a film that aspires to be funny but falls short in so many ways. It simply fails to sustain any interest. Much of the humour is hackneyed and its predictability takes away so much of the punch that you find yourself hunting for humour that ultimately is not there to find.
Overall the best I can bring myself to recommend is if this comes round on TV and you have little else to do on a rainy day give it a try.
The Brits can deliver regarding comedy at the cinema, no, no, i don't mean "Carry On... ". But i mean films like "The Full Monty". "Magicians" deliver completely. Despite some rude and bad language, highly forgivable, the whole thing is charming, cute, without any pretension and funny. Typical from the brits regarding the subject. I enjoyed it completely, and recommend it. If you like " The Full Monty", you will like this one. The actors, quite unknowed, do their part well. And there is not "space", no moment of waiting. It just delivers from A to finish. You won't laugh every seconds, but the over whole of the movie is funny. While I have been very disappointed with brits-com like "Love actually", one of the worst movie i have even seen in my life, the little budget "Magicians" manages far better. A nice surprise, wonderful. Thank you !
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Magicians" has had mixed reviews in the UK. It's from the same
producer/writing team as "Peep Show" (Andrew O'Connor, Jesse Armstrong
and Sam Bain), and if you like "Peep Show", which I certainly do, I
don't see why you shouldn't enjoy "Magicians" a great deal. I did. I
thought that it was mostly really funny, with Mitchell and Webb playing
variations on their familiar "Peep Show" persona's.
It's very British. Set in dreary and mundane locations and all about the plight of losers and misguided dreamers. I cannot see "Magicians" even getting a release overseas, but it will go down a storm when it inevitably gets shown on British television, it's natural home.
So, best bits? Jessica Stevenson's mental audition to the strains of Electric Six's "Gay Bar". (What a brilliant single that was.) Steve Edge's selfish and egotistical magician and his winner of a chat up line. His opening line to the Jersey crowd is a classic. Peter Capaldi's arrogant and sexist compere. The stooge demonstrating his "trip". Robert Webb's mentalist act. David Mitchell's heartfelt tribute to the woman he loves... and it's immediate retraction.
Cracking stuff. Give it a go.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Right now this is an entirely British outing using entirely British
comedy stars from entirely British comedy shows, in other words, if you
haven't ever seen or heard of the comedy show 'Peep Show' then chances
are you probably haven't even heard of this. That's not to say this
movie is based on that series, its not, but lets face it, it does kinda
feel like an extended episode or spin off from the show. Yes I know I'm
solely basing that on the fact the two main leads (Robert Webb and
David Mitchell) are the two leads from that show but any British person
who's familiar with the show knows what I mean.
Right its a comedy, lets just get that out there for everyone, its a black comedy based on the relationship between two reasonably famous magicians (Harry and Karl) based in the UK. Lets think of these characters as the Torvill and Dean of the British magic world (in the film), they are a household name in the UK and pretty well known elsewhere, but mainly they are a home-grown success story that are loved by their fellow countrymen (and women and kids). So what happens next, well obviously they fall out, why? because Karl is having an affair with Harry's wife. This also leads to the accidental death (or was it?) of Harry's wife during a show, which of course virtually destroys their act. This naturally leads to the pair losing touch and going their own separate ways, until a major magic competition comes along and the pair both enter.
OK so, as I've already mentioned this does feel very much like an extended episode of 'Peep Show'. Aside from the fact you have Webb and Michell, you also have at least three other people that have also starred in the show, this really does make it hard not to look upon the film as an extended special or whatever. Of course a lot of the appeal here is down to whether or not you actually like the comedy duo of Mitchell and Webb, luckily I do like the duo and have enjoyed all their work thus far. Again though this does of course cause problems because the comedy feels very familiar, very predictable and like you've seen it all before. If you like the act then that might not be a problem, but even for me as a fan, I did feel a bit of deja vu creeping in and it always felt a bit like an over long sketch. Perhaps making this idea into a six part comedy show would have been a better option?
The whole concept of using magicians and having some big magic battle to find the best magician is a nice idea, it lends itself well for some great comedy. The various magicians we see are entertaining with the obvious array such as...the more traditional tux type, wacky and outlandish, rude, shock value, supernatural, funny for the kids and mind games. Harry and Karl are more traditional magicians at the start, using the more old fashioned well known tricks, but later Karl moves into mind games mixed with the supernatural trying to elevate his appeal. This does of course lead to conscious issues for him as he is of course a fake (more of a con artist than Harry), and he cannot bring himself to fool people around when it comes to their actual dead family members. This is one of the films small engaging plot devices with morals, does Karl hurt and trick people for success? can he handle that, is he willing to trick is own girlfriend into the bargain? His struggle is compelling and amusing as deep down he really doesn't want to but he finds himself getting sucked into these situations...mainly because of his fame seeking agent who also fancies him and is actually quite funny.
So Webb's character is the stronger of the two, I think, as Mitchell's Harry really does feel exactly the same as Mark Corrigan from 'Peep Show'. Yes you could say exactly the same about Webb's character of Karl but I feel he displays more of a genuine story arc, he actually conveys some emotion. Where as Mitchell and his Harry/Mark characters seem pretty much the same, both are single, useless with the opposite sex, awkward, geeky and prone to outbursts. Its the other characters that are actually a bit more fun truth be told, Peter Capaldi is solid as the gruff and rude magic competition organiser, where as Steve Edge is easily the best as a controversial magician who simply doesn't think twice about speaking his mind, be it sexist or racist.
I guess what I'm trying to say overall is, this film is OK, but it could of been so much better. The whole thing is self contained, its simple, the gags are generally average at best, visually its a typically British movie in the sense that it kinda looks cheap but passable, and the magic aspect is cool. I really wanted to like this film so much, I like Mitchell and Webb, their brand of humour is solid, cheeky and at times close to the bar, but this is lacking something. I think it really does show that these TV folk do work better in the TV format/realm, their comedy just works so much better and there are many examples of this. So yeah, end of the day, its a solid attempt, it does kinda work but the comedy duo can't match their TV shows for pinpoint zinger bombs I'm afraid.
Four Weddings and a Funeral. The Inbetweeners Movie. Notting Hill.
Shaun of the Dead. All well-received British comedy films. Sadly,
'Magicians' will never really be mentioned alongside those greats. The
short reason: it isn't as good, or as clever as any of them. However,
that doesn't mean it doesn't have a certain kind of charm.
Yes, it's the 'Peep Show' film. Only it's not. It just has the two main stars from the (hilarious) cult TV show, David Mitchell and Robert Webb in the lead roles. And, not only content with starring the two Peep Show stalwarts, Magicians is also written by the team behind the TV show. Many may have thought, how could it fail? But it does. Just.
Despite Mitchell and Webb basically playing the same characters from Peep Show, but with different names, Magicians falls short on laugh out loud moments. And that might come as a surprise as it's a relatively short movie. You also get a lot of other well-known comedy faces all popping up along the way. Some are used to their potential, others don't come close.
I've seen a lot of hate online for this film and, although I can see where it comes from, I don't completely share their sentiment. It's not THAT bad. Yes, it doesn't come anywhere close to Peep Show and falls even further afield from what it could achieve, based on the talent linked with the film.
What you get is an adult comedy which has a few laughs along the way and is a bit predictable. If you've got nothing else to watch and this happens to be on the telly (and you're a fan of Mitchell and Webb) then give it a go. It's the sort of film you'll appreciate more if you haven't had to pay to watch it.
Keep your expectations low and you should get more out of it.
It's hard to comment on this film. I'm a big fan of Mitchell and Webb
and thought this film was really going to make me laugh...it didn't.
There are some funny moments but nothing special, and i agree that it
falls very short of Peep Show and definitely thought that Armstrong and
Bain could have come up with something a lot more exciting and funny.
The plot is boring and a few gags enable it to just keep going but the
writers have a long way to go until they reach Pegg and Wright, in the
British Comedy Films department...Stick to T.V.
I'd say it's a film to rent or go round your mates house and watch if they end up buying it. But my advice is...don't waste your money.
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