Directed by Don Scardino
Written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein
Cast: Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde, James Gandolfini, Alan Arkin
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was a film I didn’t know too much about going in. I knew the major players and had a vague idea of the plot, but I wasn’t expecting it to be one of the best or worst comedies of the year. Fortunately, the movie had me in stitches most of the time, but only because one of the actors stole every scene he was in.
For those who aren’t familiar, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is about a pair of lifelong friends/magicians who have enjoyed success as a Vegas fixture for over a decade. However, the success has gone to Burt Wonderstone’s (Steve Carell) head and turned him into a pompous ass, whereas his partner, Anton Marvelton (played by Steve Buscemi) tries to keep both of them grounded. Unfortunately, their fame is soon threatened by a deranged street magician (played by Jim Carrey) who captivates his audience with grisly acts of self-mutilation as opposed to genuine magic. The tensions between Wonderstone and Marvelton escalate to such a point that they part ways, much to Wonderstone’s detriment. In order to reclaim his mojo, Wonderstone must learn to put his ego aside and rekindle his love for magic before his rival eclipses him for good.
Granted, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone doesn’t boast the most original premise (it’s essentially Taladega Nights with magicians), but it’s given a huge boost by its incredibly funny cast. Carell turns in a great performance as the aloof and arrogant Wonderstone, and while Buscemi doesn’t command a lot of laughs as Marvelton, he has good chemistry with Carell. However, it’s Jim Carrey who steals the show. Obviously a thinly-veiled take on Criss Angel, Steve Gray is a lunatic who pulls one gruesomely absurd stunt after another, from holding in his piss for days to “sleeping” on a bed of hot coals. Whenever Carrey enters a scene, you just know it’s going to be hysterical, and there were many moments where I couldn’t wait for the movie to circle back to him.
The supporting cast, which includes Olivia Wilde, James Gandolfini and Alan Arkin, doesn’t particularly stand out, but they service the film pleasantly enough.
Initially, I didn’t think I was going to enjoy the movie as much as I did, but it really suckered me in. Without Jim Carrey, I don’t think The Incredible Burt Wonderstone would’ve hit its mark, but for the most part, it’s a good movie to turn to if you want to fill your idle time with laughter. As a side note, I was very entertained by some of the magic tricks and was actually impressed by the grand trick Wonderstone and Marvelton devise to reclaim their former glory. I can’t tell you what it is, but it’s hilarious and, well, incredible. It’s definitely worth a look-see.