Viewers expecting to be dazzled by the magic and humor in “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” should also expect some letdown. This star-packed comedy isn’t a complete waste of time, but the talents of mainstream actors such as Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde and Steve Buscemi fall short of their potential.
Burt Wonderstone’s (Carell) childhood is anything but incredible. He’s the target of the class bully, and he can’t even count on his own family’s support. One year for his birthday, Burt receives a magic kit that changes his life. Burt bonds over magic with fellow outcast Anton Marvelton (Buscemi), and 30 years later, the two are dominating the magic scene together on The Strip in Las Vegas. What audience members do not know, is that Burt and Anton secretly hate each other. When big shot street magician Steve Gray puts their show out of business, Burt and Anton split up. Burt eventually hits rock bottom when performing for residents in a nursing home, but it’s at this point that he begins to rediscover his initial love for magic.
This film is like Midwestern weather. Viewers see a preview for “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” and recognize the faces of actors known for their wit. The viewer needs a good comedy, and why wouldn’t a film with Steve Carell and Jim Carrey provide that? It’s like a sunny, 55-degree Sunday followed by a windy 32 degree Monday. The well-reputed actors and seemingly-interesting plot are only teasers to the actual viewing experience. Similar to the anxious wait for spring, viewers wait for the plot to grab them or at least draw out more than a chuckle.
Much of the humor, especially in scenes with Carrey, is just weird. Groans of disgust fill the theater as Carrey performs a “magic trick” that involves him cutting his own cheek, then pulling out a bloody playing card from his gash. Nearly every scene with Carrey includes humor of this sort, which is one reason his character does not take full advantage of the talent available. Recently, Carrey has fallen out of the spotlight in Hollywood, so it was exciting to see that he would once again be gracing the screens in a comedy. But his role in “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is perhaps the most disappointing to date. Other than the grotesque magic tricks, there were flashes of brilliance in his performance, but the script did not allow him enough screen time to expose his talent.
Similarly, Steve Buscemi was disappointingly absent for the majority of the film. Steve Carell saved this movie, but even his character fell short of Carell’s potential. Burt has an ego with more audacity than his ridiculous costume, and Carell pulls off that role with ease. As Burt leaves the stage and experiences a month of discovering himself, his funny, egotistical personality disappears all too easily. His assistant, Jane, loathes him as a performer, but in almost no time falls in love with the “new” Burt. This transformation happens too fast, and it seems as though Carell struggles with the transition.
“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” was released into theaters on March 15. The film isn’t quite “abracatastic,” but it also won’t be a complete waste of money.
Rating: 3 stars