It's A Kind of Magic
The trouble with "Magicians" is that because we have TV comedians Mitchell & Webb making the move to the big screen you end up comparing it to the movies of Pegg & Frost and unfortunately it is weak in comparison. And that is a shame as "Magicians" isn't a terrible movie, in fact it gets plenty right but it all feels very awkward and bitty. There are jokes thrown in which are simply not funny and then jokes which just go on longer than necessary and unfortunately they detract from the simple yet amusing storyline of a one time magic double act becoming rivals.
Friends since childhood Karl & Harry (Robert Webb & David Mitchell) were making a name for themselves on the magic circuit till Harry caught Karl humping his wife in one of their props and in the following show an illusion goes tragically long leading to the end of their friendship and partnership. 4 years later and they are both at a magic competition but there is still bad blood between them leading to plenty of complications.
In a way you could say that "Magicians" is a play on "The Prestige" with one time magic double act Karl & Harry becoming rivals but it is less "The Prestige" and just a general story. In fact it is also a very slim story because whilst their rivalry and issues is at the centre of the movie there is a lot of padding to stretch it out to 90 minutes. That isn't a criticism because to be frank this was never really a movie about a story but all about the comedy which Mitchell & Webb bring to their characters.
Now as to that comedy well it is a bit hit and miss because for every good joke there is something which is incredibly boring. It's amusing when we watch Harry working in Wilkinsons as a knife demonstrator and pretending to cut into his own arm but then when his friend Linda auditions to be his magicians assistant the dance scene is dumb. And so it goes on and it is a real shame because "Magicians" constantly misfires as one good joke is followed by a bad one till you are at the point that you are hoping it will end.
Part of the trouble is that there are a surprising number of characters and many of those also misfire. The whole element of crude Northern magician Tony White is painfully bad and whilst this is a character who is meant to be an extreme stereotype it is too much. The same with the couple of magic geeks who get wood when they see Harry & Karl together it is just wrong. And again it is a shame as whilst Mitchell & Webb are not the most energetic of performers the awkwardness of their performances is amusing especially as each have a semi-romantic subplot.
What this all boils down to is that "Magicians" is an okay little movie which has some genuinely fun moments. But it is such an uneven movie that unfortunately the good moments are outweighed by bad and it is the bad which you are most likely going to remember it for.