“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” had me laughing, but not as hard as the guy behind me in the theater.
It stars Steve Carell as the title character. As a kid, he was bullied and alone, until two things happened: He got a magic kit and made a friend (Steve Buscemi).
Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton make it big as Las Vegas magicians, but their act doesn’t change with the times. They’re stuck in the same flashy costumes and tired patter a decade later.
When Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) arrives on the scene with his amaze-you-until-it-hurts brand of street magic, Burt and Anton’s friendship and magical partnership is on the verge of collapse.
Maybe that’s just as well. Whatever joy Burt once found in magic is lost, and he’s a certifiable jerk. He calls every assistant “Nicole,” and keeps running them off. Jane (Olivia Wilde) was entranced by Burt’s magic a decade ago, but he sees her as another “Nicole” and another potential conquest.
The laughs in “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” are far from constant. The movie loses its way about the time Burt loses his.
Things pick up when Alan Arkin comes on the scene as Burt’s childhood hero, Rance Holloway.
Carrey also delivers as Gray, who convinces audiences that feats of insane endurance are the highest form of magic.
Carrey puts his wackiness to full effect. I enjoyed it, as did the guy sitting behind me, though some of Gray’s stunts might be hard to watch for people with squeamish stomachs. One scene involving a bed of hot coals had me squirming.
The cast includes James Gandolfini as Burt’s overbearing boss, Jay Mohr as a struggling magician and Brad Garrett as Burt’s accountant. Also, magician David Copperfield drops by for a cameo, which pretty much has to happen in a movie like this, as far as I’m concerned.
For the most part, this cast knows how to make people laugh. They and the audience would’ve been better served by a stronger story, but there’s still fun to be had.
I give “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” a B minus.
It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Roadkill” Bill with Wizard 106.7 gives “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” a B minus.
“I didn’t want to see this one but it was a lot better than I expected. It’s funny but a little gross, too.”
M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal