A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Now You See Me is an entertaining (if uneven) caper movie that could be thrilling for teens interested in magic and illusions, though some fight scenes may be too harsh (kicks to the face, pistol-whipping, a deadly car crash) for younger viewers. Viewers can also expect intermittent swearing, including derivations of "s--t," and a brief scene featuring a scantily clad woman astride a man. A character drinks too much at a bar, and several labels are seen/mentioned.
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What's the story?
J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) are four small-time magicians, escape artists, and mentalists who are recruited by an anonymous leader to execute a series of increasingly explanation-defying, crowd-pleasing tricks as a group called the Four Horsemen. Their first act together -- a Las Vegas feat that has them stealing 3 million euros from a Parisian bank via an unwitting audience member and a teleportation machine -- attracts the attention of FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and an Interpol staffer (Melanie Laurent). A billionaire mogul (Michael Caine) bankrolls their act, but even he isn't part of the inner circle. And neither is the former-magician-turned-professional-debunker (Morgan Freeman) who's on their case. Who are the Four Horsement, and what are their shows building up to? The ultimate magic trick?
Is it any good?
NOW YOU SEE ME is, in its best moments, hugely entertaining. Large-scale tricks unveiled in Vegas, New Orleans, and NYC's graffiti mecca, Five Points, are a visual delight. They satisfy with skilled camera work, perfectly executed patter from the able cast, and efficient pacing.
But ultimately, the movie is an illusion that doesn't pay off. The best caper movies let you in on the caper, showing you how it's going to go down so that you can share in the thrill of getting away with it. Now You See Me does that, in some ways, but neglects to do so when it's most crucial -- it unmasks some of the trickery, but not all of it -- demanding viewers to continue to suspend their disbelief and rely on belated explanations rather than find out on their own. This is one of a few reasons the movie doesn't quite gel, despite being very entertaining. Add to that a puzzling secondary storyline about a budding romance (who cares?), a wasted Caine (still in fine form, but not given much to do after an initially satisfying introduction), and disappointing corny bits that frankly don't belong in a movie with this much potential. Less smoke and mirrors and more substance could have made this film a more memorable romp.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why the Four Horsemen did what they did. Are they motivated by greed, altruism, or a respect for their craft?
Now You See Me unmasks some magic tricks, including some fairly elaborate illusions that people readily believe. Why do you think they do? What is the film saying about performers like these?
Are the characters role models? Are they intended to be? Can you think of other law-breaking characters who are presented sympathetically?
- In theaters: May 31, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: September 3, 2013
- Cast: Isla Fisher, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo
- Director: Louis Leterrier
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 116 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: language, some action and sexual content
- Last updated: September 17, 2020
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