Siegfried and Roy are the most successful entertainers in the history of Las Vegas, and not just because they can make tigers disappear. With their singular, bizarro fusion of Houdini wizardry, Peter Pan acrobatics, Barry Manilow hair, and Liberace-gone-Bavarian-glam-rock fabulousness, they’re like the first glitter kings of the 21st century. Their grandest illusion is turning magic into blissed-out kitsch and back again.
Since a magic trick in a movie can’t boggle the mind quite the way it can live (we’re too used to special effects), Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Box is no mere duplication of the duo’s stage show. It’s something far sillier — a biopic. It’s like the life story of Willy Wonka as filmed through a kaleidoscope by Leni Riefenstahl. The 3-D effects are fun if prosaic, the story too wholesome to buy. Yet an eerie myth emerges. As we follow Siegfried and Roy from their boyhoods in post-World War II Germany, complete with Alpine mountain climbing, through their rise up into the clouds of success, those beloved tigers of theirs come to represent the raw aggression of the Nazi past — now tamed, caged, made to go poof! It’s magic as a triumph of the showbiz will.