THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE
For anyone who hasn't gotten the memo yet, THE INCREDIBLE BURT
WONDERSTONE is a comedy about cheesy Vegas magicians starring Steve
Carrell in the titular roles and Steve Buscemi as his sidekick Anton
Marvelton. The story begins back in 1982, with the adolescent version
of Burt, or Albert as he was called then, being bullied in school and
finding solace in a magician's set gifted to him on his lonesome
birthday. Soon, Burt finds friendship with Anthony, another outcast
who shares his enthusiasm for theatrics and trickery.
Then BOOM! Like a magic trick the film jarringly fast forwards to
Burt and Anton as adults doing an elaborate act onstage in front of a
Vegas audience. And VOILA! The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Anton
have their own residency at a swank Sin City hotel and casino.
Immediately, we learn that A) Burt has done a complete 180 from his
adorable preteen persona and is now a huge dick. And B) Burt and
Anton are barely on speaking terms and are not the best friends their
stage act is based upon. Enter Jim Carrey as a rock star street
performing magician Steve Gray. Gray's sensational body-abusing
stunts a la David Blaine or Cris Angel, spark an instant rivalry
between the old school and the new.
When Burt and Anton's archaic show inevitably dissolves, so does their
relationship, and Burt is left to his own half baked devices to
salvage his career and compete with the new guard.
While there are certainly a few laughs in THE INCREDIBLE BURT
WONDERSTONE, I felt myself cringing even more. I was really on board
to just have a good time with this film- and I did. It just wasn't
the total home run I was hoping for. The super quick set up at the
start if the film felt as if director Don Scardino was simply going
through the motions, and the duo's rise to success seemed too rushed.
A little more of Bert and Anton in the early years may have helped
their personal and professional split have a bit more emotional heft.
We never get to see their friendship develop, nor do we even have an
inkling of why Burt would turn from a wide-eyed innocent into such a
jaded egotist. It just wasn't very fun to make those leaps without at
least some back story.
Though I did enjoy Carrey's send up of the modern "hardcore" street
magician, the character just eventually devolved into more of a clown
than the ironically funny bad ass they seemed to be going for.
Carrey's usual theatrics are in fine form here, but the material with
which he had to work was weak. To top it off, a lovely subplot with
the gorgeous Olivia Wilde that had so much wonderful potential just
went POOF! And she suddenly turned from a sassy promising magician
into a predictable love interest. Oops, was that a spoiler? No, it
I know it's unfair to judge a film on what it wasn't, but I just
expected so much more from a movie billed as "incredible" with so much
talent listed above that title. Again, I had a good time with THE
INCREDIBLE BERT WONDERSTONE, I guess I was just hoping for a little
I'll be checking in with more from SXSW soon!