Having been poorly for about 3 weeks now and the weather insisting it is the middle of winter with a snow storm despite it officially being spring, a pick-me-up was definitely required. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone seemed to fit the bill as it looked like a ridiculous light-hearted comedy! That it was – ridiculous, but pretty darn funny.
Magicians Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton have been a double act since being young boys, now they headline a magic show at a famous Vegas hotel casino. The arrival of new street magician Steve Gray make the pairs act look stale and so they embark on a mission to reinvent themselves…
Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi, and Olivia Wilde star in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Alan Arkin and James Gandolfini also make significant appearances. A pretty good cast and quite a random combination for this type of film which would usually star the likes of Will Farrell and John C. Reilly or Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. In fact the Farrell comparison isn’t too far off as I felt Carell who played Burt Wonderstone himself was almost impersonating Ron Burgundy in his voices and facial expressions. This notion was probably strengthened by the writing of the character who was self obsessed with delusions of grandeur and a pretty big sexist… remind you of any news anchors??
That’s probably my only niggle to be honest. Buscemi plays Anton Marvelton and when their assistant quits, Wilde is pushed into the spot light as their new glamorous assistant, Jane. Buscemi is excellent in pretty much everything, this role was no different although his character is a bit of a wet blanket. I especially enjoyed his character when Marvelton and Wonderstone have a falling out, Marvelton goes to a third world country that is in desperate need of food and clean water… and tries to teach them magic. Jane starts off as a seemingly bland character, just there in order for Wonderstone to exhibit his extreme ego and chauvinistic streak. Actually her character development brings something else to the story line and I was routing for her in the end. Wilde might not have a great rep, but I liked her as the lesbian in The OC so will stick by her on that merit! I am not sure Carell and Buscemi made a very believable pair but the dynamic of childhood friendship worked.
Carrey as Steve Gray was probably the funniest character. He is a man you will love to hate! A blatant piss-take of a David Blaine type magician who relies on shock factor and calls it magic. Carrey brought some laughs to the film, especially during his ridiculous stunts such as holding his pee for a week and sleeping on a bed of hot coals. But what makes a nice change is that he doesn’t steal every scene that he is in. Loved the long blond hair and might I say ‘have you been working out?!’ nice!
Wonderstone’s inspiration as a child came from when his absentee mother gave him the famous Rance Holloway’s magic kit. Holloway is played by Alan Arkin and they did a fine job of making him look 20 years younger! I loved the bond that Holloway and Wonderstone make, and of course Wonderstone becomes a better person because of it. I really enjoyed Arkin’s screen presence and he kind of reminds me of my Granddad so that made me happy!
The part of hotel casino owner Doug Munny played by Gandolfini is your run of the mill big shot douche bag who just wants to make money. He doesn’t care about any one else except number 1, including his own son. Yawn. But Munny’s opening of a new hotel casino on the Vegas strip gives Wonderstone and Marvelton an opportunity to try and get back in the game by competing for a residency. Here lies the big finale and feel good moment!
The story line in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (or ‘The Amazing Magician… Dude’ as I asked the cinema kiosk guy for?!) starts off pretty strong, with some big laughs coming from Carell’s cartoon like character and Carrey’s bizarre trickery. Unfortunately the plot slows down a lot through the middle and picks up a bit at the end. That said, although I wasn’t in hysterics laughing at this film, there were constant chuckles and snorts mainly at the silly dialogue and funny ideas coming from the magical aspect of the story.
It can’t have been fantastic because I think this is my shortest review ever, although on paper and to the trained film critics eye this film is an utter pile of dog poop… I actually found it very entertaining, funny throughout and an enjoyable light-hearted watch.