The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, Jim Carrey, Alan Arkin, James Gandolfini,
There is one sure thing you can always count on with a Steve Carell or Jim Carrey film, and that is the most obnoxious facial expressions possible. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is an outrageous comedy much like Semi-Pro or Blades of Glory, just less vulgar. The most unique thing about this film poking fun at the world of magicians is the various types of comedy, including slapstick, gross and vulgar, witty and, of course, obnoxious. Burt Wonderstone pretends to have a message about friendship, but it’s clear this film’s main goal is to provide the audience with the escapism and then, just like magic, pretend you forgot you ever saw it.
Burt (Carell) and his best friend Anton (Buscemi) grew up the outcasts in school, always getting made fun of. Their joint love of magic bonded their friendship, which turned into a highly successful Vegas act through the 90’s. Now pompous and unwilling to reinvent himself, Burt is losing his partner, show and all the riches he has become accustomed to. Steve Gray (Carrey), aka the Brain Rapist, is the latest freak show in the magic world, pulling death defying stunts in the streets. Burt’s bad luck and obstinance leads him to a nursing home gig where he rediscovers the magician who made him into what he is today, Rance Holloway (Arkin), and rediscovers the passion he had as a child.
If you are looking for sophisticated, higher brow comedy with wit and memorable lines and scenes, then this will only waste your time.
There is an interesting line in the film: “You want to try and dazzle people, not put them to sleep”. All comedies suffer the problem of running out of steam when all the jokes and gags have run their course and still have to end the story. Not counting Hope Springs and Little Miss Sunshine, Carell’s work (much like Carrey’s in the 90’s) is all the same. Arkin is as fun to watch as anyone, but he especially knows one character and this time it’s another brief mirror role of Stand Up Guys.
What this film does have is Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey, and he hasn’t played himself like this in a while. There are still many moves and subplots that are avoided here just so Carell and Carrey can make another dumb joke or fall over. If you like to laugh and don’t need much encouragement to do so, this film will likely serve you well with its big budget stars and big budget laughs that satisfy those who subscribe to this vein of comedy. If you are looking for sophisticated, higher brow comedy with wit and memorable lines and scenes, then this will only waste your time.