Review: The Magicians (2010)
The Magicians is a family film that works on a few levels in terms of the stories it tells and also in terms of the tones it is setting.
The Magicians concerns itself with a boy Ben (Thor Braun) who sees a magic show by the famous Hans Smid (Daan Schuurmans) and wants to learn magic. Seeing it as a good opportunity to bond with his son, Ben’s father, Koos (Theo Massen) agrees to learn with him and they form a team. His friend Sylvie (Java Siegertsz) acts as their lovely assistant. Everything changes for all involved when in the debut of their new disappearing trick, she really disappears.
One common pitfall of the family film this title manages to escape is that it manages to have humor and drama working in symmetry most of the time keeping the mood fairly light without diminishing the stakes. It doesn’t veer too far off course into overriding emotion or the another and doesn’t bludgeon you over the head with its messages them but rather incorporates them nicely into the action. The film also has a logical but unexpected turn of events that leads it towards its climactic sequence enjoyably.
Another common pitfall of the family film is the buffoonish father trope, which can at times be too cartoony. The performance by Maasen in tandem with the writing make Koos and endearing and lovable sort despite his very apparent and numerous quirks. Also noteworthy here is the seemingly one-note, prototype of the too-cool older sister (Chantal Janzen) does have some unexpected and well-delivered variation in her arc also. Rounding out the cast are the winning Thor Braun equal parts convincingly awkward and convincing screen presence, and Schuurmans with a deliciously hammy supporting turn.
Most family films would only be tasked with resolving the concerns of one family unit. The Magicians decides to take the task of trying to sort out two family situations. There is also the ongoing struggle Sylvie faces in her house with her father living overseas and her mother being detached leaving her mostly to the care of an Au Pair. This dual purpose is most refreshing and combine that with the unusual-though-not-unprecedented disappearing foible it keeps you engaged.
The Magicians is well-edited and paced. It tells its story briskly, in a manner lacking pretension but conversely it’s not devoid of content. The whole family can enjoy, laugh, and learn from this film.