Friday, June 14, 2013

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! The one magic trick I don't like is the one The Joker did...that one hurt--like really bad.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone – 3 out of 5

I’m one of those people who really enjoy and are interested with magic. The skill and ingenuity that goes into creating the illusions has always fascinated me. I even purchased a magic book several years ago and have practice a few cards tricks for my friends to patronize me with a few “oohs” and “ahs” and have all but mastered the art of a one handed shuffle—that one actually gets real “oohs” and “ahs” and “Can you teach me to do that?” (every time they ask to learn that one, I just pull the “I’m pulling my thumb off” or the “quarter behind the ear” trick and that usually gets them annoyed with me enough that I don’t have to take up my precious time teaching them how to shuffle with one hand).

Not many can pull off a pink shirt without looking like a douche.  Steve Carell
does it successfully.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone tells the tale of two lifelong magic fans; Burt (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi). These two have a show in Vegas that has been running extremely well for a decade—that is, until, a new breed of magician comes into town by the name of Steve Gray (Jim Carrey). Gray is a mix of the trickless magician David Blaine and Criss Angel (amusing because Angel, besides being parodied in the film, acted as the production's consultant along with David Copperfield). Gray’s hardcore, often sadistic and grotesque, new style of magic captivates audiences and sends Burt and Anton into obscurity; ultimately losing their show that was once so hot. The duo ends up having a falling out and Burt undergoes a series of traumatic events that reveals to him that he may not have been the superstar that he always believed he was. Determined to return to his former glory, Burt stumbles upon the man who inspired him to live a life of illusions; Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin), and he once again reignites the old sense of awe he had when he was a child. With the fire raging once again inside him, Burt seeks out his old partner and is determined to steal the spotlight away from Steve Gray.

Steve Gray sound less like a magician and the front man to a 70s rock cover band.
He actually looks like it too.

I’m going to sum up this film in my most hated way; that is I am summing it up like I’m a syndicated newspaper movie critic or one of those hack critics who thinks that by relating the title or some important aspect to the film to deliver how they felt about the movie is both witty and creative and not something really cheap and hackneyed. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone isn’t a grand illusion with all the glitz and glamor of a Las Vegas production to dazzle us with but, rather, a simple slight of hand that our uncle showed us when we were too old to really find it amazing and we laugh and faked amusement more out of our familiar bonds and fear of facing the wrath of an angry drunk uncle.

Hmm, a power drill...that's usually the object that comes out and is brandished
in a threatening manner when you face the wrath of the drunk uncle.

Fuck, I feel dirty now after impersonating the type of movie critics I hate the most…but at least I didn’t say, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is less incredible and the stone is far from made of wonder.” Damn, and going this route of acting like the pretentious syndicated movie critic, is that summing up a film like this always looks snotty and harsher than it needs to be because I actually enjoyed Burt Wonderstone.

The chin growth says, "I'm a bass player," and the hair says, "I'm also a bass player."

Let me try summing this up again…

Wonderstone isn’t a laugh riot. The film is far from hysterical but that’s not to say the movie wasn’t funny or entertaining. There was plenty that I found amusing about the film; the problem was that I just didn’t find it as funny as I hoped it would have been. Most of the jokes and gags got me to chuckle and a few rare ones made me spit out a full-out belly laugh but the rest of the time the film’s jokes are just there and I acknowledged silently that they may be funny but I didn’t laugh at them.

A magic trick of stealing the kid's popcorn next to you isn't a very good trick.

What a magical mullet.
 Steve Carell has his moments in the film, however, he isn’t like we’ve seen him in the past but he did work surprisingly well with Steve Buscemi despite the fact the film doesn’t do much to let Buscemi shine (although he did have a couple of really funny moments).  The film also failed at really let the dynamic of the two hit a higher note that they should have been playing on. There are also some great amusing moments with James Gandolfini as the casino owner that has been employing Wonderstone and Marvelton over the years.

He then started singing "Don't Stop Believing" and the movie went black.

Olivia Wilde is also in the film as an aspiring magician who looks up to Wonderstone and Marvelton but is looked at as only a piece of ass for Wonderstone to conquer and trick his way into her undergarments. Ultimately this character becomes the love interest to Wonderstone and while it works at its basic level, it ultimately feels tacked on and doesn’t really do much to move the story along. In fact, I felt like her character had her place but would have been just fine as only a potential magician and not a magician/love interest.

Here's a picture of Olivia Wilde...I have no caption joke to go with it.

The real heart of the film and the aspects I found the most enjoyable was Jim Carrey and Alan Arkin. Jim Carrey, without a doubt, was the funniest thing about this movie and made me laugh the hardest—this was especially nice considering it’s been so long since I’ve seen him do a comedy like this. Arkin, additionally, was incredibly amusing and very endearing as the Rance Holloway character. It’s a guarantee that Arkin is going to be charming and fun in whatever project he’s in and he only keeps his streak alive with this one.

Arkin's magic trick:  Being Alan "Fucking" Arkin!

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone does its job just fine. While not as funny as I wanted it to be, the film is amusing enough that it was worth the time to watch. The film may not be a purchase on Blu-Ray or DVD but Jim Carrey’s performance alone as the parody of Criss Angel and David Blaine is enough to warrant at least spending a dollar on to get it at Redbox (seriously, Redbox, I drop your name like a madman. When are you going to start giving me some of that sweet, sweet vending machine rental service cash?)

The face that pays for the rental fee.

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