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Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Warner Bros. // PG-13 // March 15, 2013
Review by Jeff Nelson | posted March 14, 2013 | E-mail the Author
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In the world of Las Vegas shows and magical illusions, Burt Wonderstone has becomes famous for performing the same exhibit day after day. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is very similar to the man's show itself, as they're both filled to the brim with gimmicks. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially given the film's silly tone. Despite the fact that Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, and Jim Carrey will draw the viewers' attention, it doesn't mean anything if the script isn't up to par. While the initial story concept has potential, it heads down the same forgettable road that countless others have. This screenplay doesn't do nearly enough to pull itself across the finish line. While there are some laugh-out-loud moments, they are far and few apart. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is well-below average.

As children, Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) discovered comfort in their new-found friendship. After Burt receives a magic set for his birthday, he decides to establish a partnership with Anton. They instantly begin creating their own tricks in a notebook. Decades later, these two "magical friends" are some of the most famous magicians, given their show in Las Vegas. However, they have been doing the same tricks for so long, that it becomes to look stale. After seeing the new age of "magic" in street entertainer Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), they decide to make changes to their act. Burt and Anton's friendship begins to crack, while life forces them to discover what's truly important. With Steve Gray around, the Las Vegas performers will inevitably be forgotten, unless they're willing to change both the act and their behaviors.

Writers Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley set the groundwork in an extremely small amount of time by establishing the beginning of Burt and Anton's friendship as kids. Fast forward a few decades, and we're brought to present day. Burt is quickly set up as one of the ridiculous and irritating characters one would expect to see in an Adam Sandler flick. This over the top character is matched with the much calmer Anton. Unfortunately, we don't get as much time with him as we would like to. As the film continues, a few supporting characters are added to the mix. Jane (Olivia Wilde), Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), and Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin) are welcome additions, as they're all much more enjoyable to watch than Burt Wonderstone. Not only is his character growth incredibly predictable, but he isn't a very interesting character to begin with. We've seen this type of role so many times, that he doesn't feel genuine in any way. There's an issue when the supporting characters are a lot more interesting than the lead.

There are a few laughs to be found throughout The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, but there should have been a lot more. This comedy could have been a lot better if it focused more on the world of the magicians. The audience gets a small peak at this in the magician bar, but it quickly returns back to Burt's narrative. His story is incredibly generic and linear, which greatly limits the amount of humor that Goldstein and Daley are able to deliver. The funniest moments to be found in this feature are between Burt and his new rival, Steve Gray. The physical humor in these situations were some of the only scenes to have me laughing. Unfortunately, this motion picture's comedy is heavily dependent upon Burt, which isn't very impressive. The majority of the comedy is formulaic and often tries way too hard to make audiences laugh.

Steve Carell's performance in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone does absolutely no favors for the film. While he's decent in his more neutral performances, such as in Crazy, Stupid, Love, he isn't as convincing in this over the top role. Steve Buscemi does what he can with the material, which isn't very much. Olivia Wilde's character, Jane, might be insanely underused, but she utilizes the sweet charm that audiences enjoy seeing from her. Jim Carrey delivers the most amount of laughs in this entire cast. He's incredibly enjoyable as the insane street performer. Alan Arkin is believable in the role of Rance Holloway. His dialogue isn't great, but he brings quite a bit to this magician. This cast is hindered by the screenplay, but they ultimately deliver decent-enough performances.

Regardless of the characters and their humor, director Don Scardino succeeds with the visuals. Since this isn't a fantasy film, there isn't any true magic. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone displays illusions and speaks about the magical reactions that such tricks convey in others. No matter who performs such actions, Scardino manages to display them in a comedic form. While they aren't all successful, quite a few of them will at least surprise you. Fortunately, he takes a subtle approach to the visuals, which is quite pleasing to the eye.

Unfortunately, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone isn't able to deliver any true genuine moments. The entire film feels incredibly formulaic and repetitive. Perhaps this would have been a stronger picture if the plot focused more on the world of the magicians and less on Burt's character arc. Since this is a comedy, it's supposed to make us laugh, but it just isn't very funny. While there are some comedic scenes, primarily those with Jim Carrey, the majority of the movie is outrageously uneven. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone could have been much worse, but it's still a forgettable picture with a small amount of humor. Rent it.

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