I love Colin Firth, and I’m pretty keen on Emma Stone, too, but not in this movie. After mulling it over for a day or so, I can’t think of anything in particular to recommend about Magic in the Moonlight.
If you are one of the diehards who thinks it is important to see every film Woody Allen writes and directs, I suppose you have a reason, though I’m not sure how many of those remain.
His best films date to the 1970s and 1980s, but if we’re honest with ourselves (and I do dearly love a handful of his films that continue to hold up over time as wonderful, funny, and full of insight), even back in Heywood’s heyday, the movies were hit and miss.
Magic in the Moonlight hits a nerve with me because it returns to one of Allen’s favored themes: the older, sophisticated, intellectual man who takes the lovely but untutored woman “under his wing.”
In Annie Hall (1977), the age difference was not important, and Annie made up in resilience and charm what Alvy had in great books. I winced a bit at Manhattan (1979) but gave Allen the benefit of the doubt for a time.
Mighty Aphrodite (1995) was the last straw for me, and subsequent pairings of grouchy old men with the young women who would be better off without them have irritated me endlessly.
In Magic in the Moonlight, Emma Stone plays a young, American psychic opposite Colin Firth as an English illusionist out to unmask her as a fraud. Their growing attraction to one another is as unbelievable as the frequently stilted dialogue.
I remember the Woody Allen films filled with wit and sprinkled with fresh ideas. This is not one of those.