Is Anybody There?

Director: John Crowley
Year Released: 2008
Rating: 0.5

A death-obsessed little creep (Bill Milner) becomes friends with a senile magician (Michael Caine) who misses his wife - the boy is determined to know if there's life after death, while the magician insists there is not. The 'quirky' elements - the boy lives in a home for the elderly and we all know how good senility is for a chuckle - get quickly trounced by the irritatingly maudlin tone and predictable structure: Milner and Caine start off enemies, then become unlikely pals, then the movie has to think about how to show Caine's character mentally deteriorating and, of course, pass on. There's a great difference between carefully guiding the audience to feel sympathy for the characters and showing those characters crying and expecting to earn pity - maybe one day Mr. Crowley will figure this out. The most inspired bit: the Finger Trick. Everything else: not inspired.