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.



‘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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