MAGIC CAMP*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
The film starts with 12-year-old Theo Moses (Nathaniel McIntyre) in his room practicing card tricks. He lives with his younger brother Cameron (Lonnie Chavis) and their mother Zoe (Rochelle Aytes) after the death of their father Devin (Aldis Hodge), who inspired Theo to get into magic. Zoe comes in and shows Theo that he has been accepted to the Institute of Magic, a magic camp headed by Roy Preston (Jeffrey Tambor). Theo thinks that his dad signed him up for it before he passed, and although a bit hesitant, Theo is excited to go.
We meet Andy Duckerman (Adam Devine), who works as a cab driver on the Vegas strip. He sees that his ex-girlfriend-turned-rival Kristina Darkwood (Gillian Jacobs) is a famous illusionist headlining at Caesars, making him jealous since he wishes he had that job. Andy is startled when Preston appears in his cab and offers him a job at being a counselor at the Institute of Magic. Although reluctant, Andy accepts when Preston suggests he may regain his love for magic.
At the camp, parents drop off their kids. Along with Theo are allergy prone Nathan Jenkins (Cole Sand), grumpy Vera Costa (Izabella Alvarez), bunny lover Ruth Brusselbach (Isabella Cramp), frequent runaway Janelle Santos (Bianca Grava), and Judd Kessler (JJ Totah), whose father Kornelius (Michael Hitchcock) is also a magician and wants his son to follow in his footsteps. Andy arrives in a fancy car to make himself look cool, but he is overshadowed and dismayed when he sees that Darkwood has been hired as a celebrity counselor, and all the kids want to be part of her group. Preston says that each group will compete for the Top Hat competition to win the Golden Wand Award, which Andy had won three times in his youth. Kris goes up to do a routine that impresses the kids but annoys Andy. Afterwards, Andy and Darkwood talk to each other, and while she is friendly toward him, he holds nothing but bitter resentment toward her.
Theo and Nathan become quick friends, but they have an unfortunate encounter with the camp’s bully Vic D’Antonio (Hayden Crawford), who has won the Golden Wand in recent years. After Theo shows off his trick, Vic responds by throwing water on him and Nathan.
Andy becomes counselor to the Hearts group, which includes Theo, Nathan, Ruth, Judd, and Vera, while Darkwood is counselor to the Diamonds, including Vic and Janelle. Andy lies to the kids and says he tours around the world doing private shows and that he’s doing better than Darkwood. Andy tries to get the kids to start with basic stuff, like making a foam ball appear from one hand to the other, but Nathan chokes on his. Andy then takes them to see bunnies, which Ruth is excited for but also overwhelmed by the cuteness. Andy goes to complain to Preston, but he encourages Andy to get the kids out of their shells to hone in their hidden magic skills.
Andy finds Theo shuffling his dad’s card deck and is impressed. Theo admits he has a bit of stage fright, and Andy looks to resolve that. He has Theo do a card routine for him, and once he relaxes, Theo is able to do the trick right. Andy later takes the kids to see other animals, but Ruth gets overzealous and sets the bunnies loose, causing them to get lost. Meanwhile, Darkwood teaches her kids how to get out of a straitjacket. Janelle manages to do it quickly and goes to be alone, where Theo finds her. The two talk, and she thinks that her parents only put her there because they are too busy for her.
A couple more weeks in, Andy gets better at counseling while the others get better at finding their skills. He gets Ruth to take more of an interest in birds when he shows her the doves. He also sees that Judd has more of a passion for costume designing. Andy then spots that Nathan has a knack for math and counting everything accurately. He later takes Theo to a room that Preston took him to back then, where they see a poster featuring Andy and Darkwood as the “Abraca-Duo” (which everyone but him thinks is a terrible name). He explains that they used to be partners in magic and romantically, but he feels that she stabbed him in the back by meeting with a TV producer to do a solo gig, leading to their fallout. At the same time, Darkwood catches Janelle trying to escape again but traps her in a net. When she agrees to participate more, Darkwood tells her how to release herself.
Andy proposes a solution to Theo’s stage fright, which is to have him do card tricks while the other kids throw magic props around him. It leads to a “magic fight”, and Andy finds himself bonding and having fun with the kids. It ends with him dumping buckets of Lucky Charms and milk on the kids (because they’re “magically delicious”). Judd then creates outfits for the Hearts group, which turn out to look very good.
Vic does a card trick for a group of kids, and tries to challenge anyone to figure out how he did it. Theo does so and shows off his own card trick, which impresses the other kids. Vic retaliates by taking his cards and burning them in a cup. Theo is devastated but Andy takes him away before anything else happens. Later that night, the kids sit around a campfire, and Theo talks about how the cards belonged to his dad, and he breaks down over it. The other kids comfort him, and they start to open up more. Even Vera admits that she has come to like the other kids. Andy also admits that he’s not as big as he says he is in the magic business, which the other kids already figured. Theo later finds Janelle outside, where they talk and almost kiss, but then they see Nathan, Ruth, and Judd walking outside because they think they found a skunk that belongs to the camp and had its stink glands removed. Turns out it’s NOT that skunk, and the kids end up getting sprayed, leading Andy to have to dumps buckets of soap and water on them.
As the Top Hat show is a day away, the Diamonds kids sabotage the Hearts by booking all the props and animals, as well as shrinking their outfits. Andy cheers them up by taking them into town where they can test out their abilities. Judd and Vera go into a clothing shop to show off outfit-changing, Theo and Nathan go to a candy store where Nathan correctly guesses how much the candy bag weighs to get it for free, and Ruth sets a bunch of pigeons on two jerks who were making fun of the kids. When they return that night, Andy sees Darkwood on the phone and goes to confront her. He expresses his anger toward her, but she insists that she had while she was offered the solo gig, she told the producer she would only do it with Andy. Before she could explain herself then, he got too angry and left her. She was just on the phone with a producer at a venue in Vegas that offered Andy a matinee position to perform, which will be right before the Top Hat competition. Andy accepts.
Andy does the show, where he proves to be a hit. The venue owner offers him a show for that night, which would mean he would have to miss the Top Hat show. He ends up agreeing to stay for the Vegas show. Back at camp, the kids feel discouraged without Andy there, but Preston helps encourage them to find the nerve to go on.
The parents arrive for the Top Hat competition. Ruth goes up first, using a routine with doves before bringing out a bunny. Although she nearly freaks out again, she manages to hold the bunny without problems. Vic then goes up to do a stabbing box trick, while Vera does an outfit-changing routine. Nathan does a trick involving everyone helping come up with a large number that spells “elephant” upside down, which matches a prediction he made earlier that day. Janelle also does an escaping trick and is happy to see both her parents made it. Preston then finds Theo by himself, as he feels too nervous to go out without Andy. He doesn’t think his mother understands magic the way his father did, but Preston shows him a video revealing that Zoe filmed Theo doing a trick with Cameron and Devin, and it was she who signed him up because she wanted Theo to see his potential the way his parents did.
Theo goes onstage and sees a mirror to the left of him, helping him gain confidence in himself. He has Zoe and Cameron go up as his assistants, where he explains to the audience and judges how he got into magic because of his father, but he kept going because of his mother. He impresses everybody with his heart and talent. Backstage, Andy watches the whole thing, as he decided to skip the night show. Preston then awards the Hearts group the Top Hat award, while Janelle wins the Golden Wand.
After the show, Andy and Darkwood talk, where she tells him he’s banned for life from the venue for skipping the show, but he feels that he belonged more there helping the kids, and that Preston has offered him a job there to scout kids for the next summer. He and Darkwood reconcile. Judd then tells his dad that he has more of a love for costume design than magic, which he wholeheartedly accepts. Vic goes up to Theo and gives him his deck of cards back, saying he just pocketed them instead of burning them, but he also apologizes for his behavior, though admits they will still compete for the Golden Wand the next year, and they part on good terms. Janelle then goes to say goodbye to Theo, but he promises to call her when he gets home, and she kisses him before she leaves.
The film ends with Andy, Darkwood, Preston, and all the kids joining for a recruitment video for others to participate.
Andy Duckerman is a former aspiring magician who now works as a cab driver. He is invited to work as a camp counselor by former mentor Roy Preston, who runs the Institute of Magic. Andy accepts, only to find his ex-girlfriend-turned-rival Kristina Darkwood, a famous Vegas magician, has shown up as a celebrity counselor. Andy is put in charge of the Hearts group of new kids who don't have skills, while Darkwood heads the Diamonds group, and both are competing for the Top Hat competition, where the grand prize is the Golden Wand award.
One of the Hearts kids, Theo, practices card tricks since his late father got him into magic. He befriends the other kids in his cabin - Nathan, Ruth, Judd, and Vera - while developing a mutual crush on Janelle, a girl from the Diamonds group. He also finds a rival in Vic, who has won the Golden Wand and wants to keep his title. Andy helps his kids find out what they're good at and develop their skills from there.
On the day of the competition, Darkwood helps Andy book a matinee show in Vegas. He is a hit and is offered the night show, which would mean he would miss the competition. He skips the show and watches the kids perform their tricks, with Theo being the last, using his mom and brother as assistants and charming the audience and judges. The Hearts win the Top Hat competition, and Janelle wins the Golden Wand. Theo and Vic become friends, while he and Janelle agree to keep in touch.
Andy stays at the camp to help Preston recruit other kids, with some help from Darkwood.