SUMMARY: An entertaining and impossible three-phase sandwich routine
Mexican magician Robert Ramirez wowed audiences when he appeared on the third season of Penn & Teller's "Fool Us". He's an all round funny guy, with a very bubbly, spontaneous, and entertaining style that is very endearing and full of energy, and few videos show that better than his "Boxed Lunch" effect. Within 10 seconds of showing up, Robert is chomping a Nutri-Grain bar, and with his mouth full, telling us how much he loves them and hates the sandwiches his sister used to make him for lunch. What an absolute blast! Now that he's got me captivated, he goes into his trick, which is a clever routine in which cards keep appearing in most unexpected places. But these aren't ordinary cards - one represents the "meat" which he hates, while others represents the "multigrain sandwiches" which he also hates. It's brilliant! And not only is it a funny concept for a plot, but the trick itself also features some mind-boggling magic.
Boxed Lunch is the second of three digital downloads available from Vanishing Inc, each featuring a fun routine from Robert. They're available separately, but also together as a bundle of three. Boxed Lunch is the most involved of the three, being the longest routine of them all, but it's also very engaging right from the start. For many years, Robert used to perform this as a closer in his close-up show. A bonus section of the video includes a second sandwich routine, so you basically get two effects for one. In this review I'll tell you what the effect is, and what you get for your money if you pick up this digital download.
What happens in this routine is this: First Robert introduces the two red Aces as the two slices of his delicious Wonder bread, which get placed in the deck box (aka Robert's Teenage Mutant Ninja Lunch Box from elementary school). A spectator selects and signs a random card which represents the horrible meat put between the sandwiches, while the two black Aces are introduced as two slices of disgusting Whole-grain bread.
In the first phase, the two black slices (Aces) are jabbed into the fridge (the deck) and emerge with the gross meat (signed card) between them. In the second phase, the gross meat (signed card) is jammed into the fridge (deck), and mysteriously again appears between the two black slices (Aces) - which were on the table all along. In the third phase, when the gross meat (signed card) is placed in the deck again, it surprisingly turns up between the two white slices (red Aces) that are inside the lunch box (card box)! As an extra twist, the deck box now also has a Nutri-grain bar inside as well! It's a great story, and there are several real magical surprises along the way.
What you get for around $10 is an instant digital download of the video, which demonstrates and teaches the effect. You can play the video via streaming, or download it in *.mp4 format to view on your computer with any video program. The entire video is about 35 minutes long, and is filmed in high quality, and the downloaded file is over 650MB in total size.
The video production is excellent all round, with great visuals and sound, just like the other digital downloads from Robert. Where necessary, there are camera close-ups for specific moves, and different angles are used on occasion as well. The first four minutes features Robert Ramirez doing the fun performance for a couple of his friends, followed by 15 minutes of Robert talking to the camera, explaining how to perform the effect. The remaining 17 minutes of the video are a Bonus section, which is a different sandwich routine that he performs as an opener to his show. The sound dropped out for the final thirty seconds, but at that point the explanation is complete anyway, so this didn't matter.
The sandwich routine in the bonus section has some similar phases to the feature effect, although there are some significant changes in handling and effect, and the story-line is absent. This routine begins with a spectator naming any card; the two Jokers are removed from the deck and are jabbed into the deck to produce the selected card between them. The selected card is inserted into the middle of the deck, and is visibly shown being in the center of the deck, but then it appears that there is a card between the two Jokers that are on the table - which is the selected card! This is repeated with some more twists, and again the card appears on the table between the Jokers.
Robert's energetic performance style carries over to his explanation, which is both informative and entertaining. He goes through each effect in stages, going through each stage twice to ensure you that you've mastered each section before moving on to the next move. At times he moves fairly quickly, but that's mostly because he assumes a working knowledge with cards, and so he won't stop and teach details like culling cards; it's assumed that you already know how to do this.
A small amount of preparation is necessary with the deck box in the main effect, but the deck itself is ungimmicked and can even be a borrowed, shuffled deck. The main challenge in performing the routine will be that it requires a working ability with standard sleights, like card controls, culling, top changes, tilt move, and more. These moves are just mentioned in passing, and Robert doesn't stop to teach them, although he does show what he is doing. He does teach a couple of special moves he has learned from another magician, and these are sleights you'll need to learn, although experienced card guys should have no difficulty with the new moves. All this does mean that this trick is for intermediate magicians at a bare minimum, and you will need to be reasonably experienced in working with cards in order to learn and perform this effect. It's really suited to working magicians, for whom in many respects this will feel like a relaxing session with a fellow magician due to Robert's casual style and warm humour.
The main routine is well thought out and has some real surprises for spectators. The plot that Robert has used is very unique and entertaining, although you certainly don't have to use his patter, and can come up with your own. But in the explanation Robert does give permission for buyers of the effect to use his patter if they wish, so if you like that aspect of the routine and it fits your style, you're free to use it.
All the details of the method really shows that this effect has the benefit of a lot of refinement with Robert's extensive use of this effect in the real world. Every last detail, including the precise positioning of details on the table, has been thought through carefully to make it work as best as possible. Some great subtleties he uses also strengthen different parts of the routine. So what you have here is a very polished result that has had the benefit of a lot of work and adjustment - Robert has done all the hard work in making this the best it can be, and we reap the benefits.
The Bonus effect has a lot of overlap with the main effect, but it's nice that this way you get an alternative approach to use. This accounts for the video being twice as long as you'd expect, so it is optional viewing. But there are some nice things to learn here as well. In his explanation of the Bonus effect, Robert also covers ways to be flexible with the routine, such as if more than one card is named at the start, which you can use to your advantage to produce the second card at the very end as an extra kicker. Many of the sleights in the bonus routine are similar to the ones required to execute the main routine, but the nice thing about it is how it can be performed completely impromptu at any time, with a borrowed and shuffled deck, and even done standing or in someone's hands.
Workers will appreciate a lot of the ideas Robert Ramirez has come up with here. His style won't suit everyone, but the routine itself is about great magic, and the handling he uses produces some very strong visual magic that most magicians will be able to use. The fact that Robert himself has used these routines as openers and closers for many years in his own close-up show is its own recommendation of how good these effects are!
- BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame