Movie review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

the-incredible-burt-wonderstoneMarch 24, 2013 – There are two kinds of people in the world, those who can appreciate the illusion of tricks and the magicians that offer them, and those who cannot.

I fall into the latter category. Magicians don’t entertain me because there isn’t any magic involved, and I don’t like to be fooled. Yet, I enjoyed “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”.

The comedy directed by Don Scardino, who is better known for his work directing television programs such as “30 Rock” and “The West Wing”, tells the story of superstar magicians (Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi) working along the Las Vegas strip. The duo earned popularity and huge paychecks over the ten years they’ve headlined, until one day their magic begins to look stale because of a new street magician (Jim Carrey) willing to go to extremes to take their audience.

Alan Arkin co-stars as an old-time magician who inspired Burt as a child, along with James Gandolfini as the owner of the hotel where they perform, and Olivia Wilde as the magician’s assistant.

John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein wrote the screenplay, which like magic is viewed best if you can suspend your belief in reality, a possibility because it is hilariously funny if you take it for what it is – a fun and crazy comedy about absurd people.

Carell and Buscemi are great, playing childhood friends who began with their magic act early on and end up performing in Vegas. As years go by their friendship is threatened and their act get old when they meet up with Carrey, who was made for this role.

Gandolfini and the always-charming Arkin were also perfectly cast. It is the role of Jane, the magician’s assistant and wannabe magician, played by Olivia Wilde, that didn’t make a huge impact. Wilde is fine, but any Hollywood actress could have filled her role, and that can’t be said for the other characters.

The story is almost fable like; someone with an ego as large as Burt Wonderstone must hit rock bottom before he succeeds. And his rise back is where the best parts of the movie come in. Carell is at his best when he’s shown adapting to life off the Vegas strip in small rooms with tiny beds, and when he finds work entertaining older folks in a retirement home, who are all former Vegas entertainers. I always appreciated when his egotistic characters are knocked down. He plays that well.

Whenever Carrey is on screen, there’s a plethora of gross humor for those who like that sort of thing. I typically don’t, but I found Carrey hilarious, anyway. This is a different role for him. I’ve grown accustomed to see him play the stupid, but loveable character, like in his earlier works, i.e. “Dumb and Dumber”, “Ace Ventura” and “The Cable Guy”, but he’s deliciously evil in this role.

Many critics and moviegoers alike didn’t care for this movie, especially the ending. It’s box office earnings are only a quarter of what “Oz the Great and Powerful” made over the last two weeks, and I’m not sure why people are staying away because it’s far more entertaining.

That said, you can’t think logically while viewing this story or it is ruined. Think humor along the lines of “The Forty Year Old Virgin”, “Anchorman” or “Stripes”, and don’t expect intelligent humor like you’d see in “M.A.S.H.” or “Frasier”. It’s laugh out loud funny, and the audience I enjoyed it with laughed out loud along with me. I adored the ending and found it clever and unique.

Suspending your belief in what is real is what most comedy is about. If you have no problem with that, you will have no problem enjoying “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.”

Rating: 4

Rating System:
5. Great Movie, see it now
4. Good movie and worth the price of admission
3. It’s OK, but I’d wait for the DVD
2. Proceed with caution
1. Don’t bother

5 thoughts on “Movie review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

  1. Jane, I agree with you 100%. I went with my sister, brother-in-law and Caitlin (17). We were all laughing throughout, especially at the “Hot Box” trick and anytime Jim Carrey was on the screen.

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