In the documentary's most astonishing interview, a British journalist relates how Jay "materialized" a block of ice onto a restaurant table before her, a feat that overwhelmed her to the point of tears. But despite all the vivid discussion of its subject's artful trickery, Deceptive Practice never bothers to attempt the one thing we'd expect and hope from a documentary about Ricky Jay: It doesn't try to bamboozle us.
...Like any great enchanter, Jay is a master at gaining an audience’s confidence. In Deceptive Practice’s most moving scene, a journalist recalls how one of Jay’s tricks—making a large block of ice magically appear on a restaurant table—brought her to tears. It’s a reminder that deception, in the best of cases, is a pathway to transcendence.
“Deceptive Practice,” which was directed by Molly Bernstein and Alan Edelstein, doesn’t pull back the curtain on a wizard who would probably set it afire before it began to part... Rather, much as Mr. Jay has done in his writing, the movie invites you to join one of his magical mystery tours as he entertainingly ambles through the histories of some of the prestidigitators who inspired him, including mentors like Dai Vernon (1894-1992) and Charlie Miller (1909-1989).