Now You See It… was written by Bill Fritz and directed by Duwayne Dunham. While still on Phil of the Future, but before Cow Belles, Alyson Michalka starred as Allyson Miller. Johnny Pacar (from Make It or Break It) plays Danny Sinclair. Allyson is a teen TV producer who has the opportunity to work on a reality show about teen magicians. While scouting for contestants, she finds Danny and discovers that there’s more to him than your average card tricks. Allyson and her team initially don’t see much in Danny, since he can’t manage to get his magic right during his audition. But as they get ready to leave Danny’s house and open the trunk of their vehicle, there’s an unexplained bevy of doves, flying out of the car. That’s the first of many odd events surrounding Danny.
Throughout the film, Allyson (yes, they spell her character’s name one letter differently than her real name for some reason) is the narrator, looking back on the story and breaking the fourth wall periodically to tell it. She’s wearing a Harvard sweatshirt each time we see her in the narrator capacity, and she appears to be in a dorm room. So perhaps she is a student at Harvard? Unclear. But probably.
Allyson opens the movie talking about the mystery around Danny Sinclair and says, “What I’m about to show you was never, ever meant to be seen.” She confirms at the end of the film that she cut together the whole thing, and that Danny is in hiding (with her). So, what happened to Danny on this magic reality show that forced him to go into hiding?
An evil sorcerer named Max (Frank Langella) tried to steal Danny’s powers and (presumably) kill him. The entire reality show was just a ruse to discover another great sorcerer and drain the unsuspecting novice of power. Danny’s fellow contestants are run-of-the-mill magicians, but Danny really does have magical abilities. Max eventually gets Danny to confide in him and accept him as a mentor. Allyson captures all Max’s plans on tape, and when she speaks up about it, he gets her sent home. It all culminates in the final magic competition when Danny, wearing a ring Max placed on him to keep the power in check, comes within an inch of his life.
The trick is to lift a 1,000-pound weight. Danny succeeds in the levitation stunt, but Max is indeed controlling his powers and eventually sends that weight plummeting down. If not for Allyson’s decision to come back and warn him, Danny would have been no more. What I wonder is, don’t Danny’s parents think that this trick-gone-amiss is weird? Max’s repetitive interactions with the audience are certainly awkward (“Why don’t we give Danny a chance to focus on his trick?”). If the man who is supposed to be caring for my kid acts all weird after my kid almost gets smashed to smithereens, I’m not just going to sit there. Anyway. In a bizarre turn of events, Allyson helps Danny take off Max’s evil ring, Max spins Danny around in the air, and Danny harnesses his power to barrel toward Max using the ring as a weapon, finally eradicating Max in a cloud of smoke.
I don’t remember watching this movie as often as others, but I liked it on this rewatch, and it’s a curious taste of Disney Channel’s more official entry into the wizarding world a few years later.