The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Directed by: Don Scardino
Cast: Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, James Gandolfini, Jim Carrey
Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins
Release Date: March 15, 2013
PLOT: Burt Wonderstone (Carell) is on top of the magic world, headlining Bally’s in Las Vegas. After a stunt goes wrong, he walks out on his partner (Buscemi) and his life crumbles. Now a street magician (Carrey) is trying to own Vegas, and Burt is trying to get it back.
WHO’S IT FOR? Have you always wished that instead of the arrogant jerk being played by Will Ferrell, that it was instead Carell? Well, then you’ll love The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. If you’re looking to laugh with Carrey, you will, but perhaps not as long as you were expecting.
Arrogant has a place in comedy, but rarely does it work perfectly when the lead character is an arrogant jerk. That’s one of the problems in the film The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, which definitely does have funny bits. It borders on implausible farce on occasion, otherwise it’s a slanted comedic take on the world of magicians.
We have a sweet beginning to this story. A young Burt is picked on at school, his absent mother gives him a magic set, and he’s immediately hooked. I thought of my friend who described his childhood as being, “a fat kid sitting in his room learning magic.” Doing a basic trick is how he meets Anton, and the two eventually grow up to become “The Incredible Burt and Anton,” sharing a magical friendship. Their comedy show is a great spoof of Las Vegas acts, complete with terrible jokes and the song “Abracadabra.” It’s a really solid beginning.
Insert arrogant jerk. For some reason that is completely unexplained, Burt grows up to be completely discounted from society (he assumes every person has room service), he has a raging ego, terrible hair, and is insensitive to anyone else’s needs. No more Mr. Nice Guy, which is exactly the reason you have Carell in the lead for a basic film like this. Jane (Wilde) puts up with it, but I didn’t want to. It takes 45 minutes for Burt to get back to being likable, so during that time we are only let with the very funny, and very occasional Carrey as Steve Gray.
Carrey is allowed to be the arrogant jerk because it’s a supporting role. He’s doing a spoof of a David Blane magician and nailing it. He literally uses his head to nail it in one particular scene. I didn’t want more of Steve, because eventually that character would get old, I just wanted a better lead character to go with it. Eventually the movie gets back on track with the help of Alan Arkin as the hero-magician who Burt desperately looks up to.
The magic in the movie can’t top “movie magic” so I never fell in love with the sincerity of slight-of-hand tricks, because I have no clue if they were trick shots or if Carell and the gang learned some actual tricks. Even the final big trick, when Burt tries to land a new gig, seems logically flawed, even if it leads to a few laughs at the very end of the film.
I don’t need The Incredible Burt Wonderstone to disappear, but I did need a reworking on the lead character. I never felt the power of magic, but thankfully I laughed just enough to make this film worth it.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10