SXSW 2013: ‘The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’ Review
When word got out that Jim Carrey and Steve Carell were going to star in a film about magic I got pretty excited, but when the trailer was released and we saw that Carrey would be playing a Jesus looking, Chris Angel type street magician I knew gold had been struck. In Don Scardino’s The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, two aging rock star magicians, Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton’s (Steve Buscemi), have their show and career threatened when a new street magician named Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) arrives to town and begins to rape people’s minds. The two magicians must find a way to reinvent their show or face the harsh reality that their stint in Vegas has come to an end.
First off, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is better than the trailer makes it out to be and hell of a lot funnier than I was expecting. I was constantly laughing throughout the entire film and even with the very annoying and unnecessary little love plot that develops between Olivia Wilde and Steve Carell’s character, I was able to enjoy it with ease. Steve Carell gets some great laughs out of the audience but, as I had hoped for, Jim Carrey steals every scene he is in. His David Blaine/Chris Angel-type impressions were spot on and the “magic tricks” he would perform were a riot, especially his epic finale. As a big Jim Carrey fan, this is the moment I have been waiting for as he brings the house down and finally returns to his form from yesteryear; let’s just hope he keeps it up. Lastly, Alan Arkin had his moments as well but it doesn’t really compare to his recent performance in Argo, same goes for James Gandolfini and his Jack Nicholson style as the casino owner.
There were a few things that surprised me during Burt Wonderston that I didn’t expect, namely the immense riff in the relationship between Carell and Buschemi’s character. After the hilarious introduction of the characters as kids, we imagine that the two are best friends but now they are going through the motions with Burt allowing fame to get to his head, causing him to be an egotistical rich asshole while Buscemi tries to make it work and offers up ideas to make things better. The movie isn’t about magicians trying to get their job back, it’s about a conceited person returning to his roots in order to become a better individual and mend the relationships and career that he singlehandedly destroyed.
When it comes to the humor in the film it almost feels like a scattershot. There might be a theme behind the comedy [magic based] but the range in humor is so diverse that you never know what’s going to come next and, when you think you do, Don Scardino and his team throw a curveball and deliver the laughs in a different way, and boy does it pay off. My favorite part of the film is Jim Carrey and everything about his character. In the film, Steve Gray’s magic show is called Mind Rapist (#rapist) and every time someone says the name of it or you see that text anywhere on the screen you just have to laugh, it’s so ridiculous
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is one of those films where both the leads and supporting characters come together to make the film shine as bright as it possibly can. Even if Carrey steals the show, everyone from Carell and Olivia Wilde to random people in the Vegas show audiences deliver laughs rather than it being a one sided comedy show. The film does drag from time to time and you wish you could fast forward through some of the drama but overall, the movie, much like a magic show, is pure entertainment and you can’t ask for anything more than that.
Rating: A ridiculous magic show that delivers consistent laughs and gives Jim Carrey a shot at redemption (6.9/10)