Every Friday night, Movies.com sends cinephiles (and newlyweds) Sarah and Joe Piccirillo to see a film. Afterwards, they answer a few questions about it. Below is their discussion.
Synopsis: Four magician criminals (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fischer, James Franco) are running from a wealthy backer (Michael Caine) who doesn't like to be crossed, a television host (Morgan Freeman) trying to expose their secrets, and an FBI agent (Mark Ruffalo) trying to put them behind bars. Will they have time to pull off one great final trick?
Is this a good date movie?
Sarah: Yeah, it is. It has good energy and humor. It's one of those movies that elicits audience participation, which is always added fun.
Joe: Yep. Good date movie. It's like being slipped Ecstasy instead of Tylenol.
Sarah: Wait. What?
Joe: At the end of the movie, you've had a good time and you don't really know why.
Sarah: That's a pretty sunny view of being drugged but I agree. Also, I'm never taking Tylenol from you.
Joe: And that's why you're no fun.
This movie is packed with big names. Any standouts?
Joe: This was a good ensemble. It's all about casting.
Sarah: The movie wouldn't work with other actors. Without the gravitas of Caine and Freeman, or the charm of Eisenberg and Harrelson, it's a special episode of Castle.
Joe: It's also a smart production move. These actors bring their own personalities to the characters – you don't have to waste screen time explaining that someone is smart, sophisticated and a little sinister – you just hire Michael Caine. It's built in.
Sarah: And that's what I liked. It was harder to predict what was going to happen because you didn't know who the hero was.
Joe: Even the French Interpol agent (Melanie Laurent) stood out.
Sarah: She's the least well-known actor in the film but she really steals her scenes with Mark Ruffalo.
Joe: I agree. It helps that Ruffalo can't play a hard-boiled FBI agent and that her French accent made the most banal statements sound profound.
What drove you nuts?
Sarah: Nothing, really. I felt like we were in good company in the theater. The audience was alternately engrossed and eye-rolly right along with us so it was hard to get mad. Everybody kind of had this "whatever" attitude.
Joe: Instead of following the magicians (which would have been fun), we're stuck following Ruffalo's bumbling FBI agent (which sucks). It's like watching Apollo 13 from the perspective of the NASA scientists on the ground.
Sarah: OK. That was hugely frustrating.
Joe: At some point one of the characters says, "Some things are better left unexplained." It should be the subtitle for the movie.
Sarah: Hey! I'm the one who elbowed you to point out what a huge duh that line was. Without me you'd be all "everything should be explained."
Joe: Is that what that was? I thought it was a botched attempt at the popcorn trick.
What will you be thinking about tomorrow?
Sarah: How so much of the movie just doesn't make any sense.
Joe: Playing cards is a surprisingly useful weapon.
Sarah: Jesse Eisenberg is the new Ethan Hawke.
Joe: I've never seen a movie unravel so quickly in the last five minutes.
Sarah: Studio problem: magic doesn't sell; crime does. Studio solution: magic crime!
Joe: The quote: "I planned everything, but the one thing I didn't plan on was you."
Sarah: Aaaaaah! Gag. I've never seen everyone's cheese meter go off at the same time; the entire theater cracked up.
Joe: I know. That line was like watching a magician reveal his hand – you get closure but feel stupid for having bought the trick.
Sarah: Before becoming a bit of a mess in the third act, NYSM is quick and savvy, much like its magic tricks. It's too bad the film is more clever than smart, but it's still worth seeing.
Joe: See it. It's harmless and engaging. Plus, it's two hours in an air-conditioned theater.
Sarah and Joe are writers/editors who live in Boston. They met in a bar and married within a year. They love to argue about early Woody Allen films and old romantic comedies. They both agree to hate musicals.