THERE'S A LOT THAT'S WRONG with The Sorcerer's Apprentice. It's loud, clunky, filled with endless exposition, stuffed with lousy performances, packed with lame jokes (why yes, there is a farting dog), and it stars the ham of all hams, Nicolas Cage.
Wait. Scratch that last one. In fact, if there's anything to like about The Sorcerer's Apprentice—and as it turns out, there's quite a lot to like—Cage's goofy, winking performance is at the top of the list. His crazed turn in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans cemented what a small but growing group of moviegoers have suspected for some time: that while Cage is a long, long way from his award-winning Leaving Las Vegas days, he's also turned into one of the most fascinating people to watch onscreen. It's not that he's believable, or likeable, or good at conveying emotion, it's that he's so damn crazy you can't wait to see what he does next. In The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Cage plays a wizard, complete with a ridiculous hat, stilted wizard-y lines, and a clumsy, 1,000-year-old backstory, and he pulls it all off with an unhinged grace that hasn't been seen since Gene Wilder.
Disney continues to rob its own graveyard with Apprentice, reworking the segment in Fantasia where Mickey Mouse enchants a bunch of brooms. A bajillion screenwriters are credited for the script—strangely, Goethe, who wrote the original "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" poem back in 1797, isn't one of them—in which Balthazar (Cage) seeks revenge on an evil sorcerer (Alfred Molina, nearly as entertaining as Cage) and tries to get his 1,000-year-old girlfriend (Monica Bellucci) out of a Russian nesting doll. There's more to it, but I don't think explaining it any further will help. Jay Baruchel plays the Mickey Mouse apprentice role, and he's generally annoying, but between Cage and some genuinely giddy special-effects sequences, The Sorcerer's Apprentice manages something not every kids' movie does: It makes you feel like a kid again.