The Incredible Burt Wonderstone – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

burtThe Incredible Burt Wonderstone – 3/5 – Another day, another movie.  In the plethora of films out there, you will always come to a weekend where, a film deemed to be one thing, can always be another.  You have a film here that, on the surface, seems to be just another slapstick comedy one.  Deep down, underneath the predictable elements, some boring moments and forgettable characters, is a movie more about friendship, endearment, and finding what really makes you happy.  For this, a movie intended to be a forgettable comedy, turns out to be a somewhat watchable film.  Overall, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a passable delight underneath a weight of mishaps.

Premise: Superstar magicians Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) have ruled the Las Vegas Strip for years.  Through years, they raked in millions with illusions, drawing a big dagger to their friendship because of Burt’s growing ego.  With their appeal dwindling, they begin facing competition from guerrilla street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), whose cult following surges with each outrageous stunt.  Even with everything coming down on the two friends, there’s still a chance Burt and Anton can save their act, if only Burt can get back in touch with what made him love magic in the first place.

We have some big names in this film (Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey).  In the main role, we have Steve Carell.  In the role of Burt Wonderstone, Carell provides us with his typical antics, showing his own comedy in this role.  At first, he needs to blend his oblivious style humor with a man who is (in the beginning) a pompous prick.  Carell is able to inject into this character that makes him funny, but shameful.  Sometimes this kind of comedy comes off stale, but it is still a feathering spark of joy seeing Carell in the role.  You see his presence get strong once it comes in the redemption he finds, as you see someone that is believable than was initially portrayed.  Steve Buscemi plays his partner, Anton Marvelton.  Buscemi gives great value to this character, providing a side of goodness, that Carell characters couldn’t give in the beginning.  This helps provide depth, not only for himself but also Carell’s character.  Other then providing an insight to a ‘good’ version of Wonderstone, Buscemi’s character doesn’t do much for the movie.  You never really get attached to him in the film.  Jim Carrey plays the street magician, Steve Gray.  Carrey helps springboard some really funny moments in this film.  You can say he steals the show.  In this role, you see Carry in a role he is familiar with.  In doing comedy, he is given a lot of freedom with showing off his own skills as a comedian.  Through his awkward humor, he creates a character with many sides to his personality.  He helps give a complexion of dark satire with a hearty touch.  This shows his deep acting, as well as his eagerness in portraying someone that is real to the audience.  He also provides a great antagonist to Wonderstone.  With a different set of tricks, it helps add more depth (like Buscemi) to the film, as he provides a real challenge to him.  For the other supporting characters, you have Olivia Wilde as the assistant, Jane, and James Gandolfini as the owner of the hotel.  These characters really don’t have a lot going on in the film, and only help as plot devices for Carell’s characters, being ‘conveniently’ placed when the story needs progression.

The direction of the film is a very prevalent one found in most generic comedies.  You have a quick premise, which helps build the main character’s purpose and back story.  From this premise, the character experiences slight success, which leads to some kind of conflict. To add flavor to this conflict, we watch a script come to life through a lot traditional slapstick comedy.  From the magician’s stage, banter between Wonderstone and Anton, and the introduction of the antagonist character (Steve Gray), the movie starts to make you sigh.  You see a film falling fast through the rabbit hole of clichés, generality, and common plot ploys for story progression.  What saves the film is the introduction of some dramatic elements, including the friendship angle and ‘redemption’ theme.  Once we get past the first 20 minutes, these dramatic points are given some limelight, and are woven perfectly with the comedy.  In making it compliment the comedic side, it draws out a better reaction to both, causing the film to become likable and endearing for the audience.  As we get past the point of the breakup between Anton and Burt, we get common things to define the humanistic sides with the ‘redemption’ theme, and convenient placement of certain characters (like Burt’s mentor, the son’s birthday and Jane working for the enemy) but you grow to enjoy the bantering, funny hijinx and ‘magician’ elements of the film.  When the climax hit, that wonder of ‘magic tricks’ comes into play (finally) and you really feel that you got a total experience in the film.  The final magic trick does save the film.

The cinematography is pleasant, not being overboard or underwhelming.  It is set in the backdrop of Las Vegas, but it helps add flavor to some of the comedic elements, and brings heart to the dramatic ones.  The score is decent enough, but isn’t something to scream ‘magical’ over.

Overall, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a film that, starts off pretty bad, but ends up being a deeper thematic film.  With decent performances from Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey, you are in for a delightful treat.  If you’re a fan of any of those three actors, and just want to pass a weekday night, go check out this film.

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