Strange Magic – Magic in the Moonlight (2014)

The annual Woody Allen movie.  So this is about a sarcastic, skeptical illusionist (Colin Firth) being brought in to expose a clairvoyant young girl (Emma Stone).  The more time he spends with her, the more he starts to believe.  While this movie wasn’t terribly well received (currently sitting on a 51% on rottentomatoes), that’s not to say this isn’t a worthwhile film.  Critics tend to hold Woody Allen to a higher standard than most, because with every movie he makes, he has the potential to make an instant classic like Midnight in Paris, and he possesses the ability to do this in the twilight of his career (he just turned 80).  I first thought that he may be trying to replicate Midnight in Paris, given the title and the fact that this is set in the 1920’s, but no, I soon found out this is actually about magic.

magicShe gets “mental vibrations” whenever she’s using her ESP.

This is a light, enjoyable movie, and other critics can calm down with their criticisms.  Sure, it probably ranks in the lower of the middle of his library, but Woody Allen at his least spectacular is still better than most on their best day.  He just knows how to put together a great overall product, with memorable characters, witty banter, and music that puts a smile on your face.  I really like the wide variety of actors that he chooses to work with, as you rarely see many repeats.  He’s always challenging himself by trying new faces, and actors will often work for scale for the opportunity to be directed by one of the greats.  He typically makes two different types of movies: hard hitting dramas and romantic romps, and while this is most certainly the former, there’s nothing wrong with that.  What’s even more impressive is if you take into account that he has made one theatrically released movie per year since 1982.  That’s over 30 years of consecutive movies, which has to be some sort of record or something.

woodyAt this point, I’m fairly certain he will be making movies until the day he dies.

This movie is all about getting these two characters interacting with each other, and when they do, that’s when this movie shines brightest.  You’re kept engaged because you want to know the explanation of why this girl can do what she does, and until you finally get to the big reveal, it can really go either way, depending on who you believe.  While it never shoots for the stars because it’s so lightweight, that never gets in the way of it being pleasurable.  This is a nice film to rent and be pleasantly surprised by.

Magic in the Moonlight (2014) ***1/2

– Critic for Hire


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