Magic review by The Grim Ringler

I don’t know if I can think of anyone that likes ventriloquist’s dummies. I technically think that it’s illegal to like them. Really. I think I read that somewhere. But no matter how much we all may dislike there is a strange attraction about a man placing his hand into the back of a small wooden person and making it appear as if the dummy is alive and speaking. None of us really believe that this dummy is speaking but there is a strange magic that happens between the man and the dummy, and you can almost, almost believe that the magic is real.

Magic is the story of Corky (the brilliant one man show of Anthony Hopkins), a young magician with more talent than charisma and so, a man of no interest to his audience. After bombing horribly though his dying mentor gives him the advice that changes his life – he may not have charisma, but that doesn’t mean he can’t find it. And he does, in the person of a Fats, a dummy who is everything Corky isn’t – funny, mean, quick, and above all, well liked. And with the dummy, Corky is a star. In no time at all he goes from nobody to an in demand performer on the verge of stardom. But just as his agent is brokering a deal that will allow Corky to get his foot into the door on television and make all of the dreams he has had come true, Corky refuses to take the mandatory physical and disappears into the country where he can forget the sudden demands that are being heaped upon him. But Corky’s flight isn’t without reason, as the place he has chosen to flee to just happens to be the lake where a woman he has always wanted but never been able to attain has a cabin rental business. The years haven’t dimmed his adoration of this beautiful woman though, but with the help of his dummy, he is able to open up to her and for the first time she is able to see him, and suddenly the two are falling in love. There is a catch though as she is married, and she is unsure how to tell her husband that she is going to leave him for this man they both went to school with so many years ago. But just as thing might be starting to look up for Corky and he is starting to get his life back his agent finds him and finds out the secret Corky and Fats the dummy have been keeping, a secret that was the reason for sending Corky into the woods and for his refusal to take the physical. And when it appears that their agent is going to tell others about Corky and Fats’ secret Fats decides that something needs to be done about him, and Corky, slowly becoming powerless to stop Fats from acting, can do nothing but follow through with what Fats wishes and they set out to kill their agent and hide the body. But now the question is…who is in control, Corky or Fats, and who can stop them?

I really, really wanted to like this movie. Hopkins gives a wonderful dual performance as the tortured Corky and the sadistic Fats, but in the end the movie’s a disappointment. I guessed where it was headed and all the red herrings that are thrown into the film all lead to naught. The film is well shot, and generally well paced, but there is no nougatty goodness at the center. It’s a thriller with no thrills. What this film wanted to be was an examination of one man’s descent into madness, but without any reason for his descent, or any background on him, it’s hard to feel any empathy. Yes, Corky was a loser that had no real ‘self’ until he found a surrogate that he could use to bring out the sides of his personality he kept hidden, but why? And sadly, as soon as you figure out what is happening, the rest of the film just drags. Now, should this have been a killer dummy movie? Eh, not necessarily, but it should have been a much darker film with much higher stakes. I had never wanted to see this movie ‘cause it looked dull and sadly, I was right.

While a very well made film, there are a lot of plot holes (did Corky always have multiple personalities? What brought it on? How did no one notice?), and there seems like there is little at stake here and in the end it’s a tepid thriller at best. The ending is suitably tragic but doesn’t have the heartbreak that it should. A decent movie at best.


6 out of 10 Jackasses
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