Review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Bad hair day all around.
Bad hair day all around.

As middle-of-the-road movies go, the comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone has plenty of ideas, but little ambition. Often the film stops short from trespassing any boundaries and remains stuck in the mildly amusing zone.

Steve Carell (who is batting about .500 these days) and Steve Buscemi are Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton, childhood friends who have turned their love for magic into a Vegas variety show a la Siegfried and Roy (minus the man-eating tigers). Two well placed strokes put an end to the act: Street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) steals their thunder and Burt and Anton tattered friendship comes to an end.

Penniless and alone, Burt lands a gig entertaining old-timers at a retirement home. The place becomes a blessing in disguise when he finds his mentor (Alan Arkin) among the residents.

The predictable comeback is the weakest section of the film. In fact, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is at it best when focusing on the villains, Jim Carrey channeling Criss Angel and Burt himself, a pampered jerk the first third of the movie.

Steve Buscemi, a gifted comedian who rarely gets the chance to showcase his wit, is mostly wasted as the ‘straight man’. Since Carrey steals every scene he is in, the blame for the film’s mediocre performance at the box office falls squarely on Steve Carell. The actor is at his best in more nuanced roles and Burt is singularly cartoonish. Two prairie dogs… Wait, where did they go?

Author: Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Journalist, film critic, documentary filmmaker, and sometimes nice guy. Member of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. Like horror flicks, long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Allergic to cats.