Jim Carrey and Steve Carell star in Don Scardino‘s The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. The film works as a fantastic way to remind us why we’ve loved Jim Carrey over the years, but also as a sore reminder as to why Steve Carell doesn’t star in nearly as many comedies and instead usually plays the supporting role. Burt Wonderstone has a magical bag full of tricks and laughter, but the film is full of stale and recycled humor that will make you chuckle, with an occasional hard laugh.
Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) are two fading magicians. Calling them fading is almost overselling it, because the two have been practicing their same boring routine for decades. They’ve never felt the need to change, because people keep coming out to see their tricks. That soon stops as their audience dwindles down to a few people per show and then it gets worse when a new street magician by the name of Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) forces himself into the equation.
Gray isn’t about the mystery of magic or entertaining people with the unknown, instead he’d rather hold in his piss or drill himself in the head for the quick shock factor. It gets him the audience he craves and the attention he can’t live without, but he’s no magician and Burt and Anton quickly realize that.
Hotel owner and promoter Doug Munny (James Gandolfini) kicks Burt and Anton to the curb and puts his focus behind Steve in hopes of drawing more crowds to his new hotel. This causes Burt and Anton to question their friendship and Burt to question his heart. Will the two be able to come back and put on the greatest show ever or will Steve Gray takeover and essentially piss on what used to be such a special and almost sacred way of entertaining all ages?
Don Scardino‘s Burt Wonderstone‘s got laughs. It’s got a lot of them to be honest. The best thing one can say about this film is just how funny it truly can be. Jim Carrey explodes on the screen as the nutty Steve Gray in a way that I haven’t seen in quite some time. This is Carrey fully committing to the looniest angles of the character, with things such as sleeping on hot coals or nailing in a nail with his head. It’s ridiculous, but its Jim Carrey ridiculous, which means you’ll have no choice but to laugh unless you seriously cannot appreciate comedy.
Olivia Wilde and James Gandolfini trail Carrey closely, with a healthy dose of dark humor that sneaks itself in under the film’s PG-13 rating. Wilde is quick and on her feet almost from the get-go, while Gandolfini just flat-out says things that everyone is thinking, but would never dare to say. The two work their comedy very differently, but both reach similar results.
What holds Burt Wonderstone back from being a great movie and instead just a good one is Steve Carell. For the longest time I’ve had problems accepting him as a leading man. He’s a talented individual that does great work with others, but his act rarely extends beyond supporting material. In Burt Wonderstone he tries to outshine Carrey and he fails miserably. I still believe that Carell is a funny man, just not one that can hold onto the audience without the help of someone else.
Don Scardino directs the film with a light structure that has the ability to move at a quick rate. The film’s pacing is never a problem, meaning jokes are almost flowing constantly. There’s also a bit of hidden charm that Scardino attempts to crack at with Carell and Alan Arkin, but the film mostly focuses on making you laugh by way of dumb magic tricks and the interactions between several odd magicians.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is funny, quick and rarely has a dull moment. Most of the film had me content, while the ending trick sold me. It’s hilarious and the biggest highlight of the film. Still, Carell’s the weakest link and holds the film back on more than one occasion, which makes Burt Wonderstone funny, but not as memorable as it rightfully should be.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone – 7/10