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Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Movie Review


Friends since childhood, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) are partners in a once wildly popular Las Vegas magic show. Think Siegfried and Roy, but without the white tigers or German accents. But time has not been kind to the pair's friendship or popularity as they face growing resentment for each other, dwindling audiences and stiff competition from guerrilla street magician Steve Grey (Jim Carrey).


Carell's Wonderstone is wonderfully self-absorbed and oblivious to those around him, obsessed only with living in the lap of luxury in his opulent Las Vegas suite and bedding attractive young ladies. One such lady who resists his charms is magician's assistant Jane (not Nicole), played by the lovely Olivia Wilde. Jane sticks with the pair even through their rough patches but finally gives up when Wonderstone goes off the deep end of booze-fueled narcissistic self destruction. It's actually funnier than it sounds.

A chance encounter with aging magician Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin) and the friendship that flourishes between them helps Wonderstone to rediscover the joy of magic and eventually make his way back on top.

The typical storyline tropes are here for our hero (spoiler alert!):
overcome childhood adversity to rise to stardom lose sight of what's importantbegin accelerated comical decline into self-destructionhit rock bottom (magic show in a supermarket)reevaluate life find a mentor who helps gain perspective reawaken sense of wonderreprioritize lifemake up with partnercollaborate on bold new ideabeat out adversary to win the dayget the girlIt's certainly nothing we haven't seen before, but strong performances and tight pacing make it enjoyable nonetheless. At 100 minutes, there isn't a lot of wasted space or exposition and this keeps the audience from getting bored.   While Buscemi and Carell each deliver solid turns, it's Alan Arkin, in his deadpan delivery of one-liners and witticisms, who virtually steals the show. Carrey's Steve Gray clearly draws inspiration from illusionists David Blaine and Cris Angel, but adds Carrey's intense physical style. Carrey's performance is subtler and more understated than what we're used to from him - without losing the intensity - and this serves the character well.There won't be any Oscar buzz around this one, neither will there be many dissatisfied movie patrons demanding their money back. The last five minutes of the film which reveal how they pull off the final "illusion" had me laughing out loud and may be worth the price of admission on its own. Overall, it's a pleasant hour and a half distraction and one that left me with a smile.

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