Steve Carell, Alan Arkin, and Jim Carrey all in one movie? You would think that alone is a recipe for brilliance! Instead it’s a hundred minutes of awkward & sometimes absurd gags, enough to make you smile, but nothing to send you rolling in the isles.
Burt (Carell) is a famous magician, and with his partner Anton (Steve Buscemi) they perform magic in the biggest theatre in Las Vegas every night. Until the world becomes hook on modern “reality” magician Steve Grey (Carrey). Now sacked, broke, and suffering a mi-life crisis Burt finds his childhood idol Rance Holloway (Arkin) who along with his assistant Jane (Olvia Wilde) inspire his love of magic again.
It’s the kind of story you would expect from an Adam Sandler movie, clichéd, formulaic, and riddled with corny and cheesy moments. It attempts to do the awkward comedy stylings of the successful Will Ferrel, but instead comes of a cheap second. It’s also almost completely devoid of any real magic, a complete shame in a film about magic.
The essentials of the story revolve around the concepts of old versus new, traditional magic versus the modern shock value reality television version, which is ironic given the whole film is based on modern awkward comedic styles bred from the likes of Saturday Night Live instead of traditional well scripted character comedy. It’s also annoying that given the movie’s theme almost all the “real” magic in the movie is CGI and clearly not even remotely real. There is scope here to provide some genuine magical thrills to accompany the jokes, but clearly not much thought has gone into it.
Alan Arkin brings some much needed light to the proceedings, capable of eliciting a smile with just one of his own while Jim Carrey turns in a good performance. Wilde and Buscemi struggle to rise above their mediocre characters, all while Carrel fills any silence with awkward sounds and uninspired dialogue. It’s a waste of talent in the end, especially for Wilde and Buscemi who have played some amazing characters in both film and television of late.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone attempts to emulate successful films like Anchorman but doesn’t quite reach those lofty heights. It’s not a complete disappointment, it had me smiling and giggling for a great deal of the running time. But it never gets out of first gear, rely’s to heavily on cliché, and has no real magic of its own.