Forgettable Fun

Magic In The Moonlight (2014)
A Review By Ben Hunter
3½ Out Of 5 Stars


Go see it before whatever new film comes along shortly after, and forgetting all about this one. 


There’s a scene where Stanley (Colin Firth) a world famous illusionist, is in a hospital waiting room fearing the grief of loosing his precious Aunt Vanessa (Eileen Atkins).  Stanley, having been known as a practical man, and far from spiritual, sees this as a possible sign that there could be some spirituality in the world.  He begins to pray.  Not knowing what the outcome will be, if there is a God, or “real magic” in the world, but anything to save his Aunt.  Mid-prayer, the rationale of his life kicks back in with authority and he realizes how “foolish” he looks, praying and possibly believing in things he’s disproven his entire life.  In a harsh awakening he realizes … “That girl is a fake!”

This scene carries the essence of the entire story.

On the French Riviera, in the late 1920’s, Sophie, (Emma Stone) a clairvoyant, amazes an American family living there with her mystical talents.  A fellow illusionist to Stanley, Howard (Simon McBurney), discovers Sophie and can’t disprove her amazing ability.  So he decides to hire the best in the business (Stanley) to come meet her and prove indeed that … “That girl is a fake!” 

And so it begins. 

Writer/Director Woody Allen had me going on an emotional roller coaster with this one.  There was a time during this experience where I thought I had it all figured out, that I’d be disappointed in its outcome, and was just waiting for it to finish so I could give the film a mediocre review.  But, like with all stories, I had to “let it breathe” and when it was over, then proceed to make my assessments.  Oh boy am I glad I did! 

Looking back, I was on the edge of my seat for most of it and can say I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  There’s no brilliantly intelligent quote that Woody takes my breath away with like he does when he nails the hammer on the head.  Or a magnificent and triumphant feeling that I get afterwards when I’m taken a back by how beautifully and intriguing the dialogue and scenes are written/constructed.  But I was still thoroughly entertained. 

The banter was enjoyable to take pleasure in involving myself with.  The most important part of any story, the debate, where your hero decides to go on the journey or not, properly opened the door of the car for me to get in and go on this journey with Stanley as he tries to call out Sophie on her affairs.  I love how seasoned Woody is at creating the words for made up people to speak, making them and the entire world come to reality!  Such wonderful set ups and pay offs with his writing! 

Not bad Emma Stone.  I’m still not on the bandwagon, but not a bad job either.  The Help was supposed to be what opened our eyes to her brilliant talent.  I guess I’m like Stanley here and trying to call her out on it.  Okay, not really.  But I’m still not convinced.  With Roony Mara it was the same, David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was my Help.  Emma Stone is a good actress, maybe even a great one, she’s charismatic; I loved when she and Seth MacFarlane introduced the nominees for The Academy Awards of that year (the same year he was the host and got a nomination for best song that morning which they both shared a joke and a laugh with).  That morning I said to myself, “I like her … but I’m still waiting for that corrected Help film to get me on board.”  I want to like her, but more than just for her personality and charming good looks.  This was a great attempt, but far from the cigar.  Hopefully I’ll get my “Corrected Help” film very soon.  But I like her and I truly hope I get my Dragon Tattoo from her very soon.

Magic in the Moonlight is a great attempt, but far from the cigar.  It’s forgettable fun.  So be sure to experience this one while it’s still running its life cycle, you’ll have a great time at the movies.  Just be sure to do this before we become amazed at whatever new film comes along shortly after, as well as the next one from Woody, and forget all about this one. 

Magic in the Moonlight
Comedy, 97 Minutes, PG-13
Written & Directed by: Woody Allen
Cast: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater, Erica Leerhsen, Eileen Atkins, Simon McBurney, & Jacki Weaver 

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