Growing up in the 1980s, I was exposed to my fair share of superstar magicians. David Copperfield and Siegfried and Roy had widely popular television specials. They were headlining Vegas shows with their illusions and trickery much to our wonderment. These magicians were rock stars in their business, yet they were viewed by most as nerdy tricksters. Don’t get me wrong. I love magic, but I do think being a magician is a little goofy. This week, two tacky magicians played by Steve Carrell and Steve Buscemi try to make a magical comeback in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone begins like most magician stories. A young nerdy outsider named Burt starts practicing magic with his only friend Anton, who is lower on the social totem pole than Burt. The two realize they have knack for magic and create the duo of ‘The Incredible Burt and Anton’. The two oddballs hit the big time and become a top act in Vegas, but eventually become yesterday’s news with the arrival of a shocking street magician played by Jim Carrey.
The rhinestone shiny suits, lion’s mane wig and awkward male dancing provides some nostalgic laughs, but the real magic comes from the performers themselves. Steve Carrell plays Burt as a self-absorbed, out-of-touch jerk who has no idea how to get food outside of room service. Burt still thinks he’s living in the early 90s which provides some chuckles throughout the film. Steve Buscemi shows his versatility again as Anton, Burt’s long-suffering second fiddle who gets zero respect from anyone. The always reliable Alan Arkin plays legendary magician Rance Holloway who helps Burt regain the magic inside by busting him down to a birthday party entertainer. The Oscar winner spews some great sarcastic lines about the state of magicians and why people get into magic in the first place.
The real star of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is the scene stealing Jim Carrey as the masochist street magician Steve Gray. Gray is basically Criss Angel with a little David Blaine mixed in. I love that Carrey took on a smaller role which seemed to mend Carrey’s funny bone which had been broken the last few years. Carrey’s performance is hilarious and gruesome at times. The role may be limited, but Carrey makes the most of it and is the catalyst that drives the film.
My expectations were low heading into The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, but Steve Carrell and the rest of the goofy magicians had a trick up their sleeves to change my opinion. Turns out The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was a surprisingly funny comedy with heart and some self-inflicted face wounds courtesy of Mr. Carrey. Comedies usually have problems with their third act, but not The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. The film keeps you laughing from the flashback opening sequence until the final trick. I give The Incredible Burt Wonderstone 3 magical potatoes out of 4.
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