The Sorcerer's Apprentice is a pretty strange idea for a movie, taking the same-named short from Fantasia as its launching point, but then really having nothing to do with it -- there's no Mickey Mouse, the master sorcerer is Nicolas Cage and not some old bearded guy, and the action takes place in modern times, involving a chase for a magical artifact. It's a fantasy/action movie, and, frankly, it's completely dorky. And yet it slips by because of its wise decision to fully embrace that dorkiness.
There's nothing in the movie to take seriously. Its hero, played by Jay Baruchel, is a nerd, brilliant at physics but overwhelmed when destiny comes calling in the form of a centuries-old sorcerer (Cage), who declares him to be the successor to none other than Merlin. Meanwhile, there's also an evil, well-dressed sorcerer (Alfred Molina) and his sidekick (Toby Kebbell), who knows real magic but can only make use of it by going the David Copperfield career route. And they all ham it up. I'll admit there's something appealing about Cage when he gets to be cheesy in a movie where the cheesiness fits, and Molina, a skilled actor, is every bit as game in this environment. They know it's fun kids' stuff.
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Jon Turteltaub put together a summer fantasy movie in a season featuring competition from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and The Last Airbender, but unlike those offerings, their movie wasn't based on anything (no, the Goethe poem, the Dukas musical piece, and the Fantasia short don't count, even with the movie's ode in the form of a scene featuring magical mops). And yet, thanks to its absence of ponderousness, The Sorcerer's Apprentice might've been the most enjoyable of the lot.
(Released by Walt Disney Studios and rated "PG" for fantasy action violence, some mild humor and brief language.)
Review also posted at www.windotothemovies.com.