The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Reviews
This is one of those comedies that tries hard to be funny with an odd character, but doesn't succeed. Think Mike Myers in "The Love Guru", only not as bad. "Incredible Burt Wonderstone" to me is kind of like Steve Carell's "Guru". It has a couple good moments, is way over the top, but ultimately just doesn't work like it could have. Wonderstone is a Vegas magician who has a nightly show with his partner Anton(Steve Buscemi). They started out very successful, but over time their act has gotten stale and their ego's bigger. Once a new form of magician(Jim Carrey) comes on the scene, their act breaks up, and Wonderstone is left starting from scratch to work his way back up. The supporting cast is excellent, especially Carry as a Chris Angel type character and Alan Arkin as the old magician act from Wonderstone's childhood. Arkin is awesome, and for me, the best of the movie. The problem with the movie, is it's just not that funny. I think I laughed twice maybe, the rest of the time was just waiting for another laugh, that just didn't come. When Carell plays like a normal guy, not an over the top character, he is awesome. But when he does something like this, it's just kind of flat to me. I really liked the premise, and maybe as more of an R rated type comedy it could have worked. It reminded me of another movie I wanted to be great but wasn't called "Death to Smootchy". Other than a moment or two, it just doesn't work. The best thing about the movie is this catchy pop song called "Top of the World" by Imagine Dragons. That sucker is stuck in my head, and it's not even that good, just catchy as hell. I'd say wait for this to be on TV or netflix.
Good movie! There's a lot here that works, and a lot that doesn't. All of the mockery towards magicians of all kinds are spot on. Carell and Buscemi are perfect as send ups of well known magicians like David Copperfield and Jim Carrey is likewise as a caricature of "street magicians" like Criss Angel. And there's just enough Jim that he's hilarious, but not obnoxiously overused. Olivia Wilde gets her own spotlight to shine and she's as pleasant as ever here. And the combination of magic and comedy are a great and somewhat refreshing mix. I'll also add that just about everything with Alan Arkin is hilarious. In the end, it all adds up to a fun and entertaining time. If you're going expecting something amazing, you'll probably be disappointed, but if you're going expecting to have a fun time, then I think you will find yourself pleased.
Superstar magicians Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) have ruled the Las Vegas Strip for years, raking in millions with illusions as big as Burt's growing ego. But lately the duo's greatest deception is their public friendship, while secretly they've grown to loathe each other. Facing cutthroat competition from guerrilla street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), whose cult following surges with each outrageous stunt, even their show is starting to look stale. But there's still a chance Burt and Anton can save the act both onstage and off if only Burt can get back in touch with what made him love magic in the first place.
This film is a mixture of two things really, on one hand we have yet another film about magic, this time a light hearted comedy. On the other hand, at times, it does ever so slightly cross over to that 'frat pack' type of comedy and you half expect Wilson or Farrell to pop up, luckily its not that outrageous.
A simple concept about two traditional razzle dazzle Vegas magicians that fall out after many years together. Then to add insult to injury a younger, tougher, edgier, high risk taking street magician steps into the fray and steals what their fame.
When I first started to watch this I defintely thought it was heading down the silly spoof route. There are moments that hint at that, but as the film progresses it turns out to be a really nice touching film that makes you smile. There are some great little funny touches dotted throughout which mainly come from Carell's character. Even though in the plot the character is from the 80's generation he seems to have been transported from the 50's. A complete male chauvinist and womaniser with little tact, yet he doesn't realise it and thinks he's a gentleman. Much of this is down to his Vegas bubble lifestyle which has transformed him into this spoilt makeup wearing lothario.
Naturally this makes for some great dialog and some hilarious pompous behaviour from Carell. Kudos to Carrey for his wholly annoying street magician who obviously is having a go at people like David Blane/Criss Angel. His nasty tricks aren't real magic of course, simply sick stunts that appease people's morbid curiosity. So the film does achieve something plot wise, you hate Carrey's character and see him for what he clearly is, whilst at the same time you are gradually warming to Carell's character and seeing he is actually a decent man.
I also loved Arkin's character and performance as the old classical, black tux magician with the pencil thin tash, almost Vincent Price-like. I also liked Gandolfini's Vegas hotel/casino owner, I loved his chic 70's-like fashions (well that's how it appeared to me) and how he still looks like a head honcho for the mob.
Some great hand trick work shown throughout, alongside various other more impressive tricks, being a film I'm sure many were assisted with movie effects. The only thing I didn't really like was the ending and how they win back their fame. It seemed a step too far and way too easy for something horrific to go wrong surely!. OK its a comedy and there's gonna be artistic license involved, its not suppose to be genuine but still...it just didn't quite feel right. Plus the idea seemed like a massive undertaking on a regular basis sheesh!.
Apart from that minor detail a very pleasant surprise, enjoyed the film, the glossy visuals and all the characters. Love the films title by the way, although I think 'The Amazing Burt Wonderstone' looks and sounds better.
Nate's Grade: B
The premise surrounds nerdy boyhood best friends, who grow up to become the infamous stage magicians Burt Wonderstone (Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi); sort of an American version of Siegfried and Roy without the tiger. They advertize themselves as having "a magical friendship", as their outdated act stands as the featured attraction on the Vegas strip. But when a Criss Angel-esque street magician named Steve Gray begins to take the duo's fan base away by performing a myriad of gruesome and outlandish "magic tricks", Wonderstone and Marvelton must find a way to freshen up their act before their style of magic is left in the past.
The Acting: Yes this film also stars Olivia Wilde and Alan Arkin. And yes, Wilde doesn't really do anything but participate as the very weak love interest, and Arkin continues his long standing decision to play himself (as long as the Oscar nominations keep rolling in) BUT the overwhelming reason this film works so well is due to a few perfectly realized characters. Jim Carrey does such a spot on Criss Angel (from the title of his show, to the gross-out factor of his act) that every time he is on screen, the comedic bar is raised substantially. As for Carell, he portrayals a pompous headliner with such egotistical verve, that his performance can only be described as Michael Scott-esque. Even Buscemi, who is not at all a comedic actor, is used strategically well, as a sort of comedic voice of reason.
Final Thought: While I understand that a majority of critics have called this film a "hit and miss", focusing on the simplistic storyline rather than the hilarious performances, or hiding behind the vastly overused "all comedy is subjective" theory, which some critics fall back on in order to undersell funny movies, it is my opinion that many of these "rotten tomato" opinions are unfairly misguided. The writing team of John Francis Daley (known best for his role on "Freaks and Geeks") and Jonathan Goldstein have manufactured a script that is as smart and witty as last year's "21 Jump Street", and more importantly, worthy of two of the best comedic actors of this generation. OK, so this film is not perfect by any means. There is an unnecessary love story jammed in the middle of this thing, and I can understand how the initial twenty minutes may bore some audiences, especially if you aren't a fan of magic or wouldn't be caught dead watching an episode of "Mind Freak". BUT, I will say that after its initial bumpiness, the rest of "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" is consistently entertaining, delivering a multitude of well formulated (early Apatow-esque) laughs. And what more could you ask for from a comedy in March?
Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland
Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus
Now, this is one of those movies that has a fantastic comedic cast, Steve Carrell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, James Gandolfini, and Jay Mohr, but even then, they aren't given a lot to work with. Carrell is really just an arrogant jerk most of the film which doesn't lead to a lot of jokes that aren't extremely predictable that we haven't seen with this type of character. Carrell does get some real good lines at some points in the movie and some of his actions also do get a few laughs but it leaves more to be desired from such a funny man. Buscemi is really just there for most of the film and I guess the joke with him is that he's just the nice guy that sits in the corner and doesn't get much of a say. Again, this has been done before many times before and done better, and again, like Carrell, gets some good funny lines at times, I just wish that the writers and Buscemi could've brought more jokes to the table with this character, because the 2nd half of the film he's gone almost all of it. Gandolfini is terribly unfunny in this film with little to no funny lines at all and when he does say something funny, it doesn't come off as funny it just comes off as just mean spirited. Mohr is really not that funny at all and really just more awkward then he is funny which I feel like was intentional but his performance and actions just come off as strange and really weird. Olivia Wilde, while not known for comedy, does get some good lines like Carrell and Buscemi but again, I wish they could've given her more jokes to work with because she, like Buscemi, will disappear from the film for about 15 minutes at times. Thankfully the film has three saving graces in terms of comedy. One is Alan Arkin, who not only does a very funny and memorable performance here, but is very likable in the role and gets a lot of great scenes in the film. Second is the scenes at the nursing home and the ending joke but I won't dare ruin that joke. And Third is anything involving Jim Carrey, Carrey is hands down the one thing that keeps this film watchable. Carrey is not only funny, this is how Carrey was back in the 90s funny, and this is how Carrey should've been acting these past few years. The delivery Carrey gives, the parody of Criss Angel, and the amount of pain that Carrey endures in this film is beyond hilarious. The only problem, he really isn't in the film enough to completely save the film. Some jokes mainly will fall incredibly flat, weren't that funny to begin with, or just straight up mean or low (Alan Arkins character at the hospital is a good example of that, you'll see why in the movie) and the film really prefers drama more than it does prefer humor which is false advertising in my book for a film that looked like and was marketed as a straight up comedy.
Overall, while the magic elements in the film do look very cool, and some characters are likable in their own right, the comedy ranges from good to non existent, and the film really prefers to use drama more than comedy at many points in the film for a film that was marketed as a straight up comedy. Some jokes are straight up cringe-worthy, the hairstyles are just as over the top as most of the actors in this film, and the film is either too mean at points, adds unnecessary scenes and jokes, or it just loses interest in where the plot is going at points. I'd say I wouldn't see it again and I wouldn't really recommend it to people who don't like over the top comedy, but I'd say maybe if you're a fan of magic you can get into it and if you really like Jim Carrey you won't be happy he isn't in it as much as the film marketed it. The film really just left me with a desire for a lot more jokes, and I do understand why they add drama, but you could add a little more comedy to the film when you market like a straight up comedy.