Saturday, July 05, 2014

Documentary Review: Magic Camp

Currently available for streaming on
Netflix as of 7/5/14
I love a good story about competition. There are a lot of great documentaries about competitions that happen around the country for just about anything you can think of... piano, high school plays, golf, weight lifting, arm wrestling, Irish dancing, and even Scrabble, just to name a few.

Magic Camp is about kids who want to be the next David Copperfield. They all have a back story of what brought them into magic. Some of the stories are pretty normal, some are from a place of harsh family conditions and abnormal childhoods.

I, personally am not a fan of magic at all. I enjoy the trick itself and I appreciate the skill of the sleight of hand and distraction techniques to get the audience to buy into the impossible. But there are two things about magic that I am not a fan of, the fact that every "impossible" trick has a logical explanation (Hence why I enjoy documentaries over fictional movies.), and the goofy showmanship that surrounds the magic. (Sparkly outfits, jazz hands, acting as surprised as the audience, flamboyant movements, etc.) But none of that was a factor in my viewing of this film because a good story is universal and is always able to rise above the subject matter. So I decided not to allow my distaste for magic and magicians cloud my enjoyment of the movie.

This was a pretty enjoyable film. The stories were fairly compelling, and the humor was in the characters and their real interactions, and not in any cheesy narration or editing.

That being said, the film was weak in the fact that it put little emphasis on the actual competition. They built up to it, showed you maybe 30 seconds of the acts, and then quickly flashed up who the winners were with zero fanfare or drama that might have gone along with it. The film failed where it's one great strength should have been. Then they gave a post-script entitled "One Year Later..." and they showed us what those kids ended up doing. It was kind of like a build up that should have led somewhere deeper but instead the ending was tossed in as an afterthought. And unless one of the kids ended up doing something amazing or unheard of, then it was a forgone conclusion that I was simply uninterested at that point as to what they were doing a year later. I didn't have enough invested in their characters to sympathize with them.

So, The middle of the documentary ended up being the part that kept my interest whereas the finale left me feeling underwhelmed. A good documentary has an ending that makes you immediately want to recommend it to your friends and family. I didn't have that feeling here at all.

I give this documentary.... 2 out 5


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