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Movie review: Chemistry fails to materialize in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’

First Published Aug 14 2014 04:58PM      Last Updated Aug 16 2014 05:37 pm

There’s nothing magical about Woody Allen’s latest, the wheezing period piece "Magic in the Moonlight."

Set in the not-so-roaring 1920s, Allen’s comedy starts with Stanley Crawford (Colin Firth), an illusionist who performs as a stereotyped Chinese character. On the side, Stanley works undercover exposing phony psychics, so he’s game when his old colleague Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney) challenges him to check out a medium who seems to be the real thing.

Stanley goes to Provence, where this psychic, Sophie Baker (Emma Stone), has a rich dowager (Jacki Weaver) and her dim-bulb son (Hamish Linklater) enthralled. Stanley is bent on catching the flaw in Sophie’s act, but his investigation is interrupted when he falls in love with her.



AT A GLANCE

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‘Magic in the Moonlight’

Opens Friday, Aug. 15, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; rated PG-13 for a brief suggestive comment and smoking throughout; 97 minutes.


Allen’s gift for witty dialogue fails him here, with a script that’s strangely joke-free as it purloins its plot structure from "Pygmalion" — even giving the Henry Higgins-like Stanley a wizened aunt (Eileen Atkins) as a maternal figure.

Firth and Stone are game, but even they would admit that magical screen quality known as "chemistry" is absent.

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