Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
0

Movies Review

'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone' review

By
Released on Friday, Mar 15 2013

Director: Don Scardino; Screenwriters: Jonathan M Goldstein, John Francis Daley; Starring: Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, Jim Carrey, Alan Arkin; Running time: 100 mins; Certificate: 15


Steve Carell evokes the flamboyant, old-school illusionist David Copperfield in a movie that flits in and out of focus, comedically speaking. There are some very funny moments but just not enough to sustain the rags-to-ridiculous story of a social misfit who becomes the toast of Vegas before being almost literally toasted by a street magician (Jim Carrey) who hurls fireballs and sleeps on hot coals.

Carrey appears to channel David Blaine and Iggy Pop to create Steve Gray - possibly his least likeable character ever - and no amount of smoke and mirrors can hide the fact that he's just too old to be playing the new kid on the block. Carell tests the limits of likeability too, when after a flashback to his lonely childhood, Burt Wonderstone is transformed into a smug, bouffant-haired lothario.

Apart from making the ozone layer disappear, Wonderstone alienates his partner in magic Anton Marvelton (an amusingly dazed-looking Steve Buscemi) when the latter tells him that sequins are out and gritty street magic is in. Director Don Scardino misses a trick, though, when after suspending them in a glass tank over the Vegas Strip, he cuts straight to the panic attack.

The decades-long relationship between Wonderstone and Marvelton provides the foundation of the story so it would have been fun to see a slower burn of resentment in those greenhouse conditions. When Marvelton finally does walk out, Carell gets cheap laughs from a drunken solo appearance (crouching to make himself invisible) and his clumsy attempts to seduce his assistant (Olivia Wilde).

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone


Often, the gags are too obvious and in the case of Steve Gray, disgusting. Indeed, that's Wonderstone's verdict after witnessing Gray cut a playing card out of his own cheek (then stitch up the wound) in shockingly bloody scenes. Gray's repertoire of sickening acts is a running joke and the crowd is the butt of it (simultaneously clapping and vomiting), but Scardino goes too far.

He doesn't always cut in the right place either, sometimes letting a punch-line hang in the air for too long. It's a shame because Carell, Carey and Buscemi are naturally funny and have enough raw material to have shaped something a little more edgy, without the gross-out tactics. James Gandolfini and Alan Arkin get to showcase their comedy talents as well, albeit too briefly.

After Wonderstone is fired from Bally's (by the mobsterish Gandolfini) he takes a job performing at an old folks' home and, there, his humbled countenance and a budding friendship with Arkin's legendary magician Rance Holloway brings another dimension. Like the best Will Ferrell comedies, the childish vulnerability of the character begins to shine through, mitigating his worst qualities.

Arkin is, as usual, wickedly deadpan. His 'now you see me, now you don't' deathbed scene is one of the funniest of the film, but just as it starts to pick up, Scardino turns back to the business of reuniting Wonderstone and Marvelton for a big comeback performance. It's all very cute, but you know for sure the magic is missing when the biggest laugh happens after the curtain call.

You May Like

Comments

Loading...