A set-up that “The Prestige” made into brooding drama is replayed as farce in Britcom “Magicians,” but unfortunately with only mildly amusing results. Film forms a widescreen vehicle for thesps Robert Webb and David Mitchell, stars of acclaimed and much darker Blighty sitcom “Peep Show.” Perky turns from supporting thesps can’t compensate for the sense that this plays like an attenuated TV episode. After a low-key domestic opening on May 18, magic will be needed to keep this pic from disappearing.
The partnership between illusionists Harry (Mitchell) and Karl (Webb) is dissolved when Harry’s wife Carol (Sarah Hadland) is accidentally decapitated onstage, not long after Harry discovered Karl and Carol were having an affair. Four years later, a now-broke Harry proposes they reteam to win approximately $40k at a provincial magic com-petish. When the two can’t resolve their differences, Harry conscripts quirky tyro Linda (Jessica Stevenson, one of the pic’s big pluses) to be his onstage helper, while Karl goes solo with a mind-reading act. Characteristically British use of comic bathos induces occasional laughs, but none from the gut. Tech package is serviceable.
Pic opened with a healthy $723k weekend of May 18, but magic may be needed to help it play beyond local screens.