Desperate Acts of Magic Is A Pleasant Little Film


Magicians, as a friend tells Jason (Joe Tyler Gold) in Desperate Acts of Magic, are the “third-most mocked profession,” after ventriloquists and mimes. While arguably true, these are hardly the inspiring words Jason, a recently laid off IT drone, is looking for when pondering his options on the other side of 30. (Jason’s ex-boss insists that this is a “fire-tunity.”) Then again, maybe that upcoming Brotherhood of Magicians convention will afford Jason the opportunity to do something he truly loves for the first time. The movie itself seizes its opportunities, and is about as micro-budget as it gets, but Gold (who co-wrote/directed with Tammy Caplan) has loaded the film with fellow magic folk doing actual (no FX or camera tricks) magic things, an interesting approach that still might wear on us if not for some capable performances (Jonathan Levit and Valerie Dillman’s especially), a believable script, and a handful of genuinely hilarious gags (three words: “Balloon Animal Seminar”). Jason’s best friend, Steve (Levit)—a successful prestidigitator in his own right—supports Jason’s foray into magic, but another magician, the acerbic Stacy (Dillman), appears as likely to help Jason launch his new career as she is to sabotage it before it even starts. Desperate Acts of Magic is a pleasant little film. And while I won’t say Gold and Caplan have pulled a rabbit out of a hat, because that’s just terrible, they may have done the next best thing: moving magicians into fourth place on that list, behind movie critics.