MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (Woody Allen). 98 minutes. Opens Friday (August 1). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
Woody Allen is getting tired - or old. Maybe he should make a movie about that, something soulful, something that has at least a whiff of authenticity. A slight piece like Magic In The Moonlight is just plain lazy.
This 1920s-set story about magician Stanley (Colin Firth), who revels in debunking spiritualists, isn't even remotely funny. And although it's supposed to be a movie about ideas - reason versus passion, rationality versus faith - it's intellectually sloppy.
When Stanley's old friend Howard (Simon McBurney) begs him to save a family he knows from succumbing to Sophie, an American spiritualist (Emma Stone), Stanley can't resist heading to the family's mansion in the south of France to expose the fraud. But then he starts suspecting that Sophie's connection with the afterlife is real and begins to fall for her.
The pic is wrapped in a gorgeous package thanks to cinematographer Darius Khondji and costume designer Sonia Grande. The performances are fine, especially by Eileen Atkins as Stanley's wise aunt - a late scene between her and Firth is the only piece of decent writing in the whole thing - and the always watchable Stone.
Normally, I'd grumble about a storyline that forces me to root for the mid-50s Firth to get it on with the 20-something Stone. But halfway through, I realized I was too bored to care.
Time for Allen to get real - about something other than older guys with younger women.