Magicians (DVD)

A rather inauspicious leap to the big screen for British TV favourites Mitchell & Webb (Peep Show, That Mitchell & Webb Look) actually works much better on DVD. Which means that this pair should consider sticking to the small screen.

Dave and Rob play Harry and Karl, a pair of magicians (which you would kind of expect, seeing as the film is called Magicians) who were once the greatest magic double act in the land. Harry accidentally chops off the head of his assistant wife Carol after catching her and Karl making a little magic of their own. Cue end of partnership, act and friendship. Four years later, we find Harry demonstrating knives in a supermarket and Karl chasing a TV gig with creepy agent Otto. But along comes a magic competition with a £20,000 first prize, which sees the pair put their differences aside and try to get the act back together.

Magicians received lukewarm reviews when it had its cinema release, and that's unhderstandable. It's pretty light on for laughs, and seems like an extended TV sketch. But its perfect for DVD — the cheesiness and slow pace is perfect for TV. There's some terrific verbal humour throughout, but a lot of the visual gags fall flat. The performances are all fine — particularly from Jessica Stevenson, who has done little since the glory days of Spaced with Simon Pegg — but don't extend far past the sketch show or sitcom. Worth a look, but you probably want to rent this rather than buy.

EXTRAS *½ Minimal. The expected deleted scenes, but the lack of a gag real is suspicious considering the film stars a swag of comedians. A "making of" featurette called Behind The Tricks is fairly decent, but ends with the words "Magicians: coming soon" which makes me think it was a TV special they neglected to alter for the DVD. And there's also Magicians Video Diaries, during which David Mitchell says: "If you're watching this, you're wasting your time. Watch the film and then watch another film." So I did.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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