Reviews from The Movie Snob
The Illusionist (B+). We’ve already posted a couple of reviews for this movie, so I’ll try to be brief. The readiest comparison is Wuthering Heights. Edward Norton (Moonrise Kingdom) is Eisenheim the Illusionist, a sensational magician who takes Vienna by storm around the turn of the 20th century. By a quick flashback, we see that he was from a peasant family, and that in his youth he was in love with a girl from the aristocracy named Sophie. Their different social stations doomed their romance, and the lad disappeared for 15 years. Returning to Vienna as Eisenheim, he finds that Sophie (played surprisingly well by Jessica Biel, Total Recall) is romantically involved with none other than the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Eisenheim and Sophie quickly discover that their love is as strong as ever, but the emperor-in-waiting (Rufus Sewell, Hercules) is a suspicious and violent sort, and the conflict caused by love across class-lines is set up nicely. Paul Giamatti (Morgan) does a good job as the cynical but decent police inspector who tries to figure out what Eisenheim is up to and to persuade him not to incur the imperial wrath.
The Wedding Date (D+). Someday soon I am going to write a column listing good romantic comedies and bad ones; the second list will be much longer, and it will have The Wedding Date on it. This is a frequently vulgar and infrequently amusing rom-com about Kat (Debra Messing, The Women), a woman who hires a male escort to take her to her sister Amy’s wedding in England because Kat’s ex-fiance is going to be there and she can’t bear to go alone. Dermot Mulroney (Stoker) is Nick, the escort, and he is about what you would expect from a male escort: handsome, fit, suave, and deft on the dance floor, not to mention a virtual philosopher on the subject of love. You can guess the rest. Anyway, there are plenty of tawdry goings-on, there is virtually no character development, and most of the characters on display are highly unlikable for lack of either integrity or intelligence. Debra Messing is not my cup of tea, but she is surprisingly attractive during much of the movie, which explains the bonus “+”.