Make Believe follows six teens competing for the title of Teen World Champion in magic.
Six teenagers from around the world are preparing to showcase their talents in Las Vegas for a magic competition for the title of Teen World Champion. The teens are: Siphewe Fangase and Nkumbuzo Nkonyana from Africa, Hiroki Hara from Japan, Derek McKee from Colorado, Bill Koch from Chicago, and Krystyn Lambert from Los Angeles. The teens are all very different aside from their strong passion for magic and this documentary follows their preparations for Las Vegas all the way through the competition.
Make Believe is about as quirky a subject for a documentary that I have ever seen and the film certainly has heart. While it would be easy to put these kids up as weirdos or nerds or whatever, Make Believe really gives them a showcase for their passion and talent. However, that’s not to say the film is entirely kind to them throughout the entire runtime, but it is never mean. While I don’t care at all about magic (though I do enjoy watching it, I guess) I was rooting for the teens during the award ceremony.
The biggest problem I have with Make Believe is that I don’t know who the film is for. As a documentary it doesn’t give too much insight into the field of stage magicians but I think the view of magic is also overly simplified for real fans of magic. The concept is compelling and the documentary is fun to watch but on a whole I was fluctuating between feeling bad for these kids and rooting for them.
Regardless of my fluctuating mood during Make Believe, I ended up enjoying it with the hopes that these kids get out a little bit more. There’s something to be said when you can be considered to be one of the best at something, but how many magicians can the normal person list off the top of their head? Maybe I’m just being cynical, but being a magician is not exactly a lauded profession for all but very few and the years of alienation needed to practice magic doesn’t seem like it will pay off. That really isn’t a knock against Make Believe itself, but it’s something I couldn’t shake during my viewing of the film.
I give it 3 Lance Burton with four of the teen competitors out of 5.