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'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone' Falls Incredibly Short

Jennifer Joh |
March 16, 2013 | 11:16 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, and Jim Carrey in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. (Warner Bros.)
Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, and Jim Carrey in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. (Warner Bros.)
Silly, lightweight and charming, "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" manages to be hilarious thanks to the hilarious cast, but it's a comedy that drags on and moves slowly. 

The stellar comic cast of this magician movie doesn't exactly guarantee a successful comedy. Though some of the comic moments manage to be original and inventive, pieces of the story lack passion, which is ironically what the movie is focused on. 

Set almost entirely in Las Vegas, the film follows Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell), an awkward and lonely kid who becomes captivated by the power of magic, but grows up to be a pompous, proud and self-absorbed magician in Vegas who is in danger of burning out.

Burt's obtuse and clueless character, hilariously decked out in a sequined costume and mullet wig, is practically tailor-made for Carell. It's different and fun to see him play a more jerky character than usual.

The movie also chronicles the relationship between Burt and his friend Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi), who has been a buddy and collaborator since childhood. The two make up a pair of fairly successful but repetitive magicians.

Carell and Buscemi have perfect chemistry in the beginning when they are performing their all-too-familiar routine in front of an adoring audience in Vegas. Their cheesy and dazzling outfits and hair, and the obvious fact that the act is not much more than reflex memory, make up an especially funny beginning scene.

Moments like these make it hard to hate the film entirely, but the largely underwhelming comedy of the movie in general definitely fell short of the few expectations audiences may have. 

The film itself is lively, and Jim Carrey, who plays Burt's competition Steve Grey, a magician of the streets who prefers daring feats like sleeping on hot pokers rather than making things disappear, is spot-on with his usual manic energy.

There are ridiculously funny parts of the movie, including Burt's "biggest bed in Vegas," which can fit a family of ten comfortably, and his general ignorance about ordinary society outside of the glitz and glam of the Vegas bubble. But the pacing needs picking up. The laughter won't hit you as hard as you expect. 

"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" remains too broad of a comedy and wastes some potentially awesome performances. Alan Arkin is the elderly Rance Holloway, the master of traditional magic and the one who inspired Burt and Anton as schoolboys. He is rediscovered by Burt at a retirement home, and goes on to help Burt revive his dying career.

Arkin's performance as an old retired grump is sweet and lovable, and the relationship between Rance and Burt could have been cultivated and prodded a lot more. But it's only a small part of the film and only added on as a device to move the story along.

Olivia Wilde is also a supporting character who, as we all know, is an excellent and hot actress, but is shoved to the periphery for most of the movie. It's really a travesty that she's given so little to do in the film, considering she's the only female character and is stuck in a romantic subplot that doesn't do much or convince anyone. 

Though it succeeds as an entertaining comedy with a leading comedic cast, given that this movie traces the reviving of passions lost, "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" is lackluster and doesn't quite reach where we want it to be. It tries to be more, but the performances could have been better modulated.

Otherwise, it's a decent movie and your go-to choice this week if you just want good humor and a rare dose of Carrey that we haven't seen in a while. 

"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" is in theaters now.

Reach Staff Reporter Jennifer Joh here. Follow her on Twitter here



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