The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013)

I'll admit that I went into this movie expecting it to suck pretty bad. The trailers were not fantastic, and Steve Carell is kind of hit and miss (do you remember Evan Almighty?) Add into that a dose of Jim Carrey, and you've got a movie with a bunch of slapstick humor and overacting that is the movie equivalent of a cat's toy - lots of movement and color, but no real meat in it.

Things, it turns out, are a lot better than the expectations. It's got your standard backstory of kid born in the 70's and tormented in the 80's by bullies until he finds his calling. What was downplayed in the trailers was that Burt had a best friend who he did the magic act with, and the adult version of that person is Steve Buscemi. Upon seeing Steve, I wondered how they were going to explain that the kid version of him had normal teeth because, of all Steve's recognizable features, those messed up teeth are #1. Turns out, they don't bother.

So, Burt is essentially a fictionalized combination of David Copperfield and Siegfried (of Siegfried & Roy). We are introduced to a few other struggling magicians, one of whom notably keeps getting attacked by his tigers. When Jim Carrey comes in, he is a fictionalized splice of David Blane and Kriss Angel. He does a few tricks, but he concentrates mostly on stupid stunts like holding his pee for days or laying on a bed of hot coals for a night. There is surprisingly little interaction between the two competitors, and I thought (based on the trailer) that we were going to have more of that.

So, after being fired by his boss played by James Gandolfini (RIP), Burt has to go back to his magic roots in order to overcome that more flamboyant new magician. He turns to the very ancient Alan Arkin - who had produced the magic kit that got Burt's career started as a kid. The results are fairly predictable. However, another bright spot in the movie is the addition of the assistant who blooms into a talented magician played by Olivia Wilde.

On the whole, the movie is very, very predictable, but it's a comedy, so that can be forgiven. The humor is pretty good a lot of the time, but it ventures a bit too much into Jim Carry's wheelhouse a bit too frequently.

Cinematography was excellent.
Story was canned.
Dialogue was good.
Acting was good for the most part.
Effects were very good.
Direction was good.



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