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"Instead of Abracadabra" is a very funny short film about a lovable loser who lives with his parents but fancies himself a great magician of "gothic mystery and mayhem" and has developed a catch phrase of "Chimay!" as an alternative to abracadabra. His parents want him to get a real job but he wants to impress the single mom next door by performing first at her child's birthday party, and then at his father's 60th birthday get-together. The first trick we see him do goes horribly awry and much of the film is spent grimacing in anticipation of similarly catastrophic outcomes from his dangerous and elaborate magic tricks. This film has some Napoleon Dynamite-type elements of humor, some big laughs, and a couple good twists toward the end.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The story of the film is easy to anticipate. The main character is
rather immature, wants to become a magician and still lives with his
parents. Pretty lame Hollywood story, right? My answer is no. His first
try at magic, a trick he volunteers his mother for, goes bad. Really
bad: she ends up in the hospital. But it's then that you sense the
black humor of it all. And soon follows a bevy of such displays. Tricks
that go wrong, so you think, until the "script" catches you off guard
and throws you off with a surreal ending. Even if it doesn't add to a
gullible story, you still get a laugh out of it.
And let's not forget that truth is stranger than fiction.
The rising point of the film is the live show the main character gets to hold. He performs his trick with a volunteer and seems to have pulled it until the man collapses to the floor. The crowd is stunned and so are the spectators (of the film). But the dead man was in on the "plan" and he gets up. The magic trick was played on the audience, not on him.
Laughter ensues, and you ask yourself a question: Was the story in the movie played on the characters...? or on you? It's not the perfect movie, but it still surprised me an made me laugh. Aren't shorts about that?!?
Călin Rădulescu @ Shorts Up Romania, June 2010
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Istället för abrakadabra" or "Instead of Abracadabra" is a live action short film from 2008, so almost 10 years old. It is a Swedish production, so make sure you got a good set of subtitles. For many of the people who worked on this little movie, it is still by far their most known work, or at least one of their most known works and this includes writer and director Patrik Eklund. The reason is very simple: The film was nominated for an Academy Award almost a decade ago, where it lost to "The New Tenants". It is the story of a man who still lives with his parents and who loves practicing magic. But things don#t always go his way and during one of his shows, his mother gets injured and has to head to the hospital. The magician is lucky though as he meets a cute nurse there, but the way to her heart only goes through the path of actually succeeding with his shows and that includes shows for children with rodents and tiny explosions as well as shows for grown-ups with really sharp weapons. Will our hero succeed? I think this was a decent little comedy movie with some dramatic moments for sure, but overall, it is indeed fairly light. It never tries to be a story where a son wants to prove something to his father, but it's just everyday life and at the very end, the magician's career is probably over, but he may have found something much more valuable. Watch it, it's a charming little story.
I am going to say something rather radical. Over the last several
years, I've gone to the showings of both the animated and live-action
short films that were Oscar nominated. For the first time ever, I went
to a showing and didn't particularly like any of the films--as was the
case with the live-action ones for 2010. I didn't think any of them
were bad but i also didn't think any were Oscar-worthy--and most of
them were amazingly unpleasant--like the Academy deliberately tried to
pick the most unpleasant films they could this year. Perhaps 2008-9 was
a poor year for live-action films or perhaps this just shows a bias of
the people picking them. However, I can't see the public in general
enjoying most of the films or wanting to see them.
The film is a comedy about a loser who insists on becoming a professional magician when he grows up. However, he is 25 and he never gets paid and doesn't seem particularly competent. To make things worse, he insists on doing very dangerous tricks--and they often seem to backfire.
"Instead of Abracadabra" is an odd choice for an Oscar nomination. It isn't a bad film at all, but it also seems very slight. Enjoyable but not especially memorable. I also didn't particularly think seeing such a creepy looking guy lying in be masturbating was pleasant or even necessary. It's like puking or peeing--things normal folks won't want to see in films, I can assure you! Overall, funny and clever but not especially deep or memorable.
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