L'apprendista mago (Het geheim)

Movie review by
Danny Brogan, Common Sense Media
L'apprendista mago (Het geheim) Movie Poster Image
Magicians learn importance of family in kid-friendly comedy.
  • NR
  • 2010
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Intended to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Stresses the importance of family over money/work. Father-son bond is at the heart of the movie. Teamwork achieves goals. Divorce is a key theme. Children lie to teach parents a lesson. Iffy reference to dieting.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ben shows perseverance in achieving his goals. Ben and Sylvie lie in a misguided attempt to teach Sylvie's parents a lesson. Sylvie's parents initially appear neglectful. Ben's sister is superficial and fixated on her looks.

Violence & Scariness

A child goes missing, which may cause some distress. Brief moment of peril when a character climbs down the front of a house. Parents argue. Conversation about a pet being put down. Verbal bullying in a classroom. Character thrown to the floor during a judo lesson. Character accidentally hits his hand with a hammer.

Sexy Stuff

Brief kiss. Magician's assistant scantily dressed (bra and hot pants). Carnival dancers in bikinis. Character mentions being asked out by three boys.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine seen at dinner.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that L'apprendista mago (Het geheim) is a Dutch (dubbed into Italian) family movie about an 8-year-old boy, Ben (Thor Braun), who dreams of becoming a magician. There's plenty of heart in the movie, with an emphasis on family over money and work -- and kids will enjoy the magical set pieces and comedic moments. But know that divorce is a key theme of the story, with some parental arguing. A child disappears, and although they're never in peril, some viewers may be distressed. Characters also continually lie and, although their reasoning is explained, it's not justified. Ben's teen sister is quite superficial, and she makes an iffy reference to dieting. Female characters are scantily clothed, but it's brief and in context. Some discussion about a pet potentially being put down.

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What's the story?

In L'APPRENDISTA MAGO, 8-year-old Ben (Thor Braun) is inspired to become an illusionist after seeing his hero, Hans Smid (Daan Schuurmans), perform. Together with his unemployed father, Koos (Theo Maassen), and new girl at school Sylvie (Java Siegertsz), the trio form a magic act. But when Sylvie accidentally disappears during a routine, Ben and Koos come under fire. With his parents' marriage unraveling, can Ben and his father figure out where Sylvie is, before it's too late?

Is it any good?

There are enough tricks and laughs in this family-friendly movie to deserve your time. Younger viewers will enjoy rabbits being pulled out of hats, disappearing assistants (all the tricks were overseen by a real-life magician), and the odd bit of slapstick. L'apprendista mago never takes itself too seriously -- even when touching on issues such as divorce and abandonment -- but audiences will need to ignore some glaring plot holes. For example, how are Ben and Koos allowed to continue performing after Sylvie's disappearance? But if you can overcome these, you’ll be swept along.

Braun's performance as Ben is noteworthy, and Maassen's Koos provides enough laughs. Their characters' father-son relationship is at the heart of the movie, so it’s a relief that the onscreen chemistry between them works. L'apprendista mago is a fun, if not magical, ride.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the magic in L'apprendista mago. Do you believe in magic? Why do you think we have a fascination with magic and illusions?

  • What's the relationship like between Sylvie and her mother? Why does Sylvie do what she does? Is Sylvie's mother really putting work before family, or are there other reasons why she doesn't go watch Sylvie perform?

  • How does the movie portray divorce? Is it realistic?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love family comedies

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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