There is an interesting discussion going on at ask.metafilter about the twist in “The Illusionist”, and whether it was successful. Lots of spoilers, so proceed with caution.

I liked this comment a lot:

But on an emotional level — for me at least — it’s a love story. The howdoneit angle is secondary. Think about it as a love story for a minute: it’s a pretty clear-cut example of boy-gets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-wins-girl-back again. To me, that’s inevitably going to be an engrossing formula, if the storytellers set the romantic tone well and if I’m attracted to the protagonists.

For me, all the magic stuff was a backdrop. It gave the movie a gothic feel, like “Wuthering Heights” which, for me, is a love story about Catherine and Heathcliff. The windswept setting just makes adds spice to the romance.

I agree with all the flaws mentioned, but this really hits it on the head for my personal experience – and makes me think of how my film-viewing style has sort of morphed into this over the years: the movie doesn’t have to be perfect on all levels; if it makes me feel, evokes a big emotion – distaste, love, wonder, thrill, terror, dislike, silliness – then it’s a good movie. This is why I consider both “Requiem for a Dream” and “Anchorman” to be great movies. But it doesn’t mean I will ever watch the former again, and the latter, I watch a few times a year.