Where’s the magic?

Magic in the Moonlight

Rated 3.0

The new Woody Allen picture offers up a number of characteristic enticements—a mixture of romantic comedy and philosophical reflection, a period setting (Europe in the 1920s), and a frisky and attractive cast. The basic plot has a sardonic master magician (Colin Firth) setting out to expose a young American spiritualist (Emma Stone) as a fraud. Romantic complications ensue (both characters are engaged to marry others, but second thoughts begin to rise) and the quasi-ruminations (“scientific” rationalism vs. “magical” intuition) impinge on much of that.

Allen’s script seems uncharacteristically labored. The familiar themes and moves are there, but the inspiration is too often lacking, especially with Firth’s debunker/illusionist, a doggedly sour sort only partly salvaged by the actor’s charm.