‘The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’ doesn’t have much magic
“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”
Directed by Don Scardino
Starring: Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey
Two out of five stars
A great magician never reveals his secrets. The only mystery surrounding “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is where it’s hiding the jokes.
Steve Carell stars as Burt Wonderstone, a famous magician who performs a sold-out show to throngs of adoring fans at a fancy Las Vegas casino with his partner, Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi).
The two magicians have been friends since childhood but Wonderstone’s ego and aversion to change leads to a chasm in their partnership.
Compound that with an up-and-coming street magician named Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) stealing their spotlight and it throws Wonderstone’s career into chaos.
With no money and no fawning audience, Wonderstone is forced to re-discover his love of magic and win his way back into the limelight.
The film is your standard “fallen arrogant hero” set-up and doesn’t pull anything out of its sleeve, narrative-wise.
In fact, the whole movie is entirely predictable and, for a film about magic, you don’t want to be able to see the strings.
Carell and Buscemi are serviceable in their roles but it’s Jim Carrey doing his best Criss Angel/David Blaine impersonation that really steals the show. It’s a testament to his talents that he never goes too over the top, despite being a blatant parody in his characterization.
The rest of the film is mostly harmless, at best. It never decides between being a crowd-pleasing family film or a bawdy comedy and the result is a mixed bag of jokes that fall flat more often than not.
What the film gets right is the appreciation for slight of hand over cheap stunts. Magic is a
hard-won skill that takes dedication and practice and it’s certainly better than a bunch of “look-at-me” theatrics.
However, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” lacks the discipline to work its own enchantment.
There are many tricks performed in this film but the one I wanted the most was to make the movie disappear.
Frank Miller is a Sacramento writer.