The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Reviews
Young Albert is a loser. He is beaten up and made to eat bark not sixty seconds after we meet him. His mother is never home and he has to bake is own tenth birthday cake. His only outlet is a Rance Holloway Magic Set. He soon meets Anthony, another outcast who, according to doctors is "dangerously close to being a girl". Through the years their friendship and love of magic grows until they become "The Incredible Burt and Anton" working their way up the magician's ranks around the world. Burt is soon contracted to Bally's Casino in Las Vegas and Burt agrees but only as long as Anton comes too. "We are a team. Always have been always will be."
Cut to a decade later and the "magic" is gone. Burt and Anton have done the same exact show every night for ten years. Burt (Steve Carrell) has become a petulant prima donna who abuses his friend and only cares about getting the show over with so he can sleep with an audience member. Anton (Steve Buscemi) tries to go with the flow, but Burt keeps firing assistants. "That's the second one this month!" Anton complains.
Enter Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) a street magician and Criss Angel clone with a cable T.V. show "Brain Rapist". He's new and exciting, never mind that he doesn't do any actual magic tricks. "He just mumbles and cuts himself. My niece does that", Burt scoffs. But that doesn't matter to casino owner Doug (James Gandolfini). "You guys are doing the same [crap] as when I hired you." He wants something new.
From here the plot is pretty standard. The duo breaks up, a romantic interest is introduced, and Steve Gray taunts them at every turn. But here's the thing. It doesn't feel stale. Yes, the notes are all there, but they are played with a lighter touch. The dialogue is witty instead of mechanical and the sentimentality is far less forced. The actors play their roles with a gusto rarely seen in this age of cookie cutter comedies and the typical beats are measured out to a different timing than we are used to. Will Steve Gray get his comeuppance? Will Burt and Anton change, grow, forgive, and rejoin forces to get the "big gig"? Will the two romantic leads get together in the end? We know the answers, but the way the movie gets us there is refreshing and humorous. The ending itself is slapstick of the highest order, changing the tone of the final triumph completely and in the best way possible.
Hands down some of the best moments belong to Alan Arkin as Rance Holloway. Watching him in the previews for this movie I read his character one way, but in the movie he is a different animal altogether and they are both equally side splitting. Alan Arkin is a master of dry humor and with little to no perceivable effort he can change a line from self-deprecating to a barb at his co-star without changing a word.
As a final word about the actors, this is the funniest I have seen some of these actors in a very long time. Carrey, Carrell, and Buscemi have returned to quality comedy with this offering and I hope they do not go back to the dim witted sentimental schlock we saw from them in other stages of their respective careers. I'm looking at you, "Mr. Popper's Penguins".
"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" is not perfect. It may push a couple of its jokes a trifle too far, but this movie was obviously made with an eye on quality and laughs rather than pumping out a quick product of dubious entertainment value. If I had to have a complaint it would be that some of the CG is pretty cheap, but honestly the material was so good I found myself forgiving the obvious effects. Modesty aside, I wanted to watch it again as soon as it was over. Now, that's an impressive trick.