For people of a certain age, these names may act as a time machine back to the 1970s: The Amazing Randi, Uri Geller, Peter Popoff. All come tumbling back to life in An Honest Liar, an unexpectedly fun (but sneakily forceful) portrait of a rationalist.
That’s not the way James Randi would have been described when he started out. He was a magician—the Amazing Randi, a modern Houdini with a slightly ’50s beatnik vibe—who transformed himself into a full-time debunker of spiritualists, faith healers, and other charlatans. This documentary’s got a clever through-line about deception as regards Randi’s private life and his longtime partner, artist Jose Alvarez. But its main appeal is in demonstrating how skepticism and reason can be rewarding philosophies for passing through life.