Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Steve Carell is one funny guy, but he has had a terrible time finding the right material.  The Incredible Burt Wonderstone comes about as close to fitting the bill as any film Carell has made in the last ten years.  However, I have to say most of the laughs are from the antics of the rest of the cast, but those laughs are enough to make the film worth watching.

Carell plays the title character, a longtime Las Vegas magician who has lost sight of how much performing magic excited him in his younger days.  Part of the problem is the world of professional magicians has passed him by in favor of performers like Steve Gray, played hilariously by Jim Carrey, who have turned magic into a performance art of self-abuse.   In spite of encouragement from his partner Anton and assistant Janue, played by Steve Buscemi and Olivia Wilde, respectively, Wonderstone cannot get it all together until he meets his original inspiration in a nursing home.
 I do not care to spoil much of the story.  Anyone can probably fill in the blanks regardless.  Yes, it is predictable Wonderstone gets his groove back and wins out over the self-torturing for attention magicians and wins the girl.  It is not the story that makes the film worth watching.  It is a half dozen or so gags from the supporting cast.   I would like to single out Carrey.  I am not a huge fan of his, but I can appreciate how he is willing to forego top billing in order to play a character well suited to his talents.  His Steve Gray is a definite highlight right until the end when his act catches up with him.
Wilde is lovely as ever.  Her character is the heart of the film.  Can she carry a movie herself?  I could see her as the leading lady in a romantic comedy.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is not a great film.  It is not even a laugh riot.  But the characters, save for Wonderstone, are charming   but it is a big problem when the title character is least interesting.   Watch for Buscemi doing his thing as the put upon Anton.  Watch for Carrey putting his sugar high comedic delivery to good use for once in a blue moon.  Watch for Wilde as a sweetheart who can play a role without showing off skin.  The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is not a classic, but it is frivolous entertainment worth seeing at least once.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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