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Non-Review Review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

I was really looking forward to this movie when I heard about it, Steve Carell and Jim Carey in the same movie? Excellent.

Burt Wonderstone’s (Steve Carell) interest in magic sparked as a young boy when he received a Rance Hollaway (Alan Arkin) magic set and began to share his magical tricks with Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi). The duo, now established and respected as world renowned magicians, have been performing in Bally’s hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip for many of years, gaining money, fame and love. Over the years, their show, like their friendship, has become old and stale, and is threatened by street magician, Steve Gray (Jim Carey). Gray baffles his audiences via self-harm and endurance acts, quickly grabbing the attention of Bally’s owner, Doug Money (James Gandolfini). Money demands for the duo to update their act, and so Wonderstone and Hollaway are forced to rethink their performance, with the help of their assistant Jane (Olivia Wilde), and show they still have what it takes to rule the Las Vegas strip.

He's in a glass case of emotion...

He’s in a glass case of emotion…

As with most ‘rise, fall and return’ concepts, the plot is very predictable. Wonderstone is caught up in fame and fortune and has to lose it all before rediscovering his love of magic. Many reviews have noted the films ‘seen it before’ vibe and comment on the predictability of the plot. And I would agree with them. However, for me, it’s not much of a deal breaker when comedies follow the suit of others, as long as they deliver laughs throughout.

It wasn’t incredible, but the movie definitely deserves respect in this regard. Some of Carell’s movies fail to provide humour during the stages of character development; The 40 Year Old Virgin lost a lot of momentum as a comedy in the latter half due to this, in my opinion. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone managed to keep afloat by delivering jokes through the entire movie. The majority of entertainment comes from director Scaridino’s portrayal of the magic scene. Wonderstone and Hollaway depict the old school magicians, by relying on slight of hand and deception, while Grey portrays more modern magic, focusing on self-harm, endurance and shock. The movie plays off this comparison and makes subtle quips at modern street magicians.

It's a kind of magic...

It’s a kind of magic…

I really liked this movie, it kept my interest the entire way through and had definitely it’s fair share of comedy. This was, in most part, due to Carey. He definitely stole the show in this one. For me, Jim Carey has gone off the radar for a while. After his roles in Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Yes Man and The Number 23, I really lost interest. Carey’s performance in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, however? Hilarious! It’s the Carey I love, akin to his role in Bruce Almighty and Me, Myself and Irene. Sure, it doesn’t stand up to his golden performances in Ace Ventura and Dumb & Dumber, but that doesn’t mean he still can’t be funny. And for 50!? Man, he looks good! Or maybe that’s the make up? Either way, I definitely saw a reborn Carey in this performance. I hope we see more of this.

On the other hand, I’m not too sure about Steve Carell’s performance. I’m somewhat biased, I first noticed him in Anchorman and thought he was hilarious, and I’m a huge fan of the US Office. It will take a lot for me to lose interest in his acting, but I will admit that his performances are becoming a little stale. Carell works well for this sort of comedy and I enjoyed his character, but he sticks to his guns, and plays the same role that we’ve seen before. There was a number of entertaining scenes focusing on Carell but I question whether the comedic attributes of Burt Wonderstone were due to Carell’s acting or the character dialogue. As a fan, I would love to see Carell try something new and step outside of his comfort zone.

Carrey on...

Carrey on…

Buscemi works as a good supporting actor and, as always, adapts to the role well. It might have even been of benefit to make more use of him. In regards to Wilde, I remembered a recent conversation I had had with Darren. While watching Cowboys & Aliens, I mentioned to Darren that, despite what I thought of the movie, watching Wilde was enough to hold my interest, yet she doesn’t actually do anything contribute to the movie. The same can be applied to Wilde in this movie. Her character didn’t provide any entertainment value. She’s nice to look at, but I wouldn’t have missed her in this movie at all. Although, I guess for plot development, the main character requires a love interest to provide encouragement, but I’m sure they could have worked in some jokes for her?

Despite my problems with Carell’s predictable performance and Wilde’s character, there’s not much else I can fault it on. It doesn’t stand to the likes of the classic comedies, such as Zoolander and Anchorman, but I will definitely be watching this movie again.

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