Comedy duo Mitchell and Webb team up properly on the big screen for the first time, playing feuding magicians.
There's a witty premise here and plenty of opportunity to make fun of over-serious stage performers and, especially, recent magic-themed films. But the writers ignore that in lieu of more traditional TV-style gags, which must have seemed funny on the drawing board, and perhaps even on set, but fall a little flat on the big screen. It's not a total disappointment though with some comical set pieces, such as Linda's dance number audition, being oddly amusing but a few of the running gags, such as Otto's constant gay innuendo, never go anywhere. The only things that draw laughs are throwaway lines of dialog and daft performances.
Mitchell and Webb have terrific on-screen chemistry, so it's a problem that they're barely together in this film. They have completely separate plots, including two formulaic romantic-comedy storylines, and it's when they're together that the film finally comes to life. The final segment, set during the last round of the competition, is clever and funny and rather sweet, boosted by a hilarious turn by Capaldi as the top judge.
All in all, somewhat disappointing yet strangely warm & amusing. Think of Steve Coogan's PAROLE OFFICER as an example; not the split-your-sides-laughing you expected, but still entertaining and highly watchable.