I love Ricky Jay! Who is he, you ask? Well, I’m sure you’d recognize him. In the past 25 years, he has become quite the character actor appearing in many David Mamet films (HOUSE OF GAMES, HEIST), BOOGIE NIGHTS, MAGNOLIA, MYSTERY MEN, TOMORROW NEVER DIES, and an episode of THE X-FILES. Just to name a few. But first and foremost, he’s a magician. In fact, that’s how he got to be an actor. He was usually a magic consultant on films, and then he would somehow end up in the film too.
But this Documentary shows that there is much more to Jay than just being an eccentric character actor. He is a truly unique individual. This film talks about how he got his start when he was about 7 years old when his Grandfather taught him card tricks. It shows how he became famous on the talk show circuit in the 1970’s, appearing on the tonight show, The Dick Cavet Show, and the Dinah Shore show. He became friends with several musicians and actors including Steve Martin. Now, he is most known for his one man show he performs in New York City.
The film doesn’t really get into his acting. This is more about his magic, which usually just involves a simple deck of playing cards. Watching Jay shuffle and cut his way through a deck of cards is pretty amazing. It’s like an art form. In a time of magicians like David Copperfield, Jay brings it back to basics. Everything is just “sleight of hand”. And he is a master at it. Of course he doesn’t give his secrets away, but you do get glimpses as to what makes this guy tick. Cards aren’t just a hobby to him. They are a part of him. It’s a spiritual thing going on there, and it’s fascinating to hear about.
Now, I have seen better Documentaries. The structure of the film is a little too loose for me. It doesn’t really seem to have a structure, which doesn’t fit Jay’s personality in my opinion. This guy is absolutely precise. The movie is not. I’m not saying it’s NOT entertaining. It is! But I do wish it was a little more focused. It jumps around too much I felt. It starts off showing what Jay is doing now, then it goes back for a few minutes to his childhood, then it goes back to where he is now, then it shows his work in the 70’s, then back to the present. I think this Doc should have been more organized.
With saying all of that, Ricky Jay is just too intriguing of a person to NOT recommend the movie. I just love hearing this guy talk and hearing about his experiences. It’s very engaging. The film ends on a perfect note too, with Jay reciting a poem Shel Silverstein wrote about him.
It’s not the tightest Documentary I’ve ever seen, but it offers a rare look into the life of that charismatic, mysterious character that is Ricky Jay. If you’re a fan of magic, card tricks, or Jay…. definitely check it out. ★★★ (out of ★★★★)
- Not Rated. I honestly can’t remember if there was any swearing or not. I don’t think there were any F-words. Could be PG?
- Running time: 1hr 28min.