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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

MOVIE REVIEWS

THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE (2013)

Starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde, James Gandolfini, Alan Arkin, Jay Mohr, Michael Bully Herbig, Mason Cook, Luke Vanek, Zachary Gordon, Brad Garrett, Fiona Hale, Gillian Jacobs, John Francis Daley, Richard Wolffe, Erin Burnett and David Copperfield.

Screenplay by John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein.

Directed by Don Scardino.

Distributed by New Line Cinema.  100 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

 

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The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

A good magician knows how to make his audience look in one direction when he is performing the trick in the other. 

This kind of subtle sleight of hand is not exactly in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone's bag.  However, the movie has an obvious passion for the world of magic and the enthusiasm is contagious, creating a trick that the audience doesn't totally believe in and doesn't totally get, but they are willing to suspend disbelief. 

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is sort of like a little kid who got his first magic set and wants to do a show.  The tricks have mostly been seen before and they are done somewhat awkwardly. Still, the kid is working so hard to please us and so obviously is thrilled by what they are doing that we really, really want to give them the benefit of the doubt.  Even when you can see the coin slipped between the fingers. 

The magic kit reference is only partially coincidental here.  Two kids with a magic set figure into the flashback that opens the film.  Burt and Anton are two young kids in a small suburb, nerdy kids who have few friends and are regularly attacked by bullies.  When Burt receives the kit sold by magician Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin), the two kids bond over a mutual love of illusion.Fast forward thirty years.  Burt (Steve Carell) and Anton (Steve Buscemi) are now famous magicians who have a sold-out residency at a swanky Vegas hotel.  However, after all these years of working together and doing the same exact show night after night, they have become bored and started getting on each others' nerves.  The audiences have picked up on their apathy and started to tune out.  Suddenly empty chairs are more and more common in the Burt and Anton theater.

Their fragile hold on the audience is threatened even more by Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), a jerky new-fangled street magician (think Kriss Angel).  Gray's tricks are not so much magic as they are extreme stunts – not urinating for 12 days straight, sleeping on hot coals, becoming a human piñata where he is chained up and people can hit him.  He's not a good magician, but he is edgy and new and makes Burt and Anton's old school Vegas show seem corny.

Therefore the two magicians have to hit rock bottom so that they can regain their pure love of magic in order to try to get their mojo and their audience back.

A huge problem for this film is that for at least 2/3s of the film, Burt Wonderstone is truly an abhorrent character: a total pompous ass.  That makes it a lot harder for us to root for him to resurrect his career and find true love.  But then Wonderstone, and the movie, recapture the awe of true magic, mostly coming from an aged Rance Holloway, who restores Wonderstone's belief.

Lots of it is silly and the new trick that Burt and Anton come up with to regain popularity is absolutely absurd... and not funny.

Still, if you don't pay that much attention to what the left hand is doing, the right hand of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone can trick you into believing the movie is better than it is really.

Ken Sharp

Copyright ©2013 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 12, 2013.

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Copyright ©2013 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 12, 2013.

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