Movie review: Make Believe

From the July 26, 2012 edition

“Make Believe” may be the only movie a local theater has shown as part of a kids’ film series that includes curse words Alive won’t even print. The documentary about the world’s best young magicians isn’t exactly geared toward younger audiences. Like hit documentary “Spellbound,” it gives us a peek into a subculture that’s a bit offbeat and just as competitive as athletics.

Cameras follow six very different teens, all of whom are misfits among their classmates, as they prepare to compete in the annual World Magic Seminar for the title of Teen World Champion.

There’s a pretty blonde who’s been given every opportunity to train with the best. There are two American guys, as well as a pair of South Africans who’ve used magic as a way to avoid the crime and drugs in their neighborhood. And then there’s Hiroki Hara, a teen from rural Japan who had no one nearby to teach him magic.

For these kids, magic is both an art and a job. They spend every moment practicing.

The movie nicely balances the number of magic tricks it shows with backstories that make us care about the people behind the illusions.

In “Make Believe,” the real magic isn’t the tricks performed on stage — it’s the kids and their determination. And when it’s competition time, every success and blunder touches us as we root for our favorites.