The Incredible Burt Wonderstone wasn’t as incredible as I would have hoped. Only a few years after Steve Carell retired Michael Scott, the role he was born to play, he has remained relatively out of the spotlight. Partnered alongsideas his faithful best friend and partner Anton Marvelton and Olivia Wilde, his hopeful magician-to-be sidekick Jane, this trio face what it’s like to have to recover their once coveted Las Vegas stardom.
As young boys, Burt and Anton are inspired to become magicians after Burt receives his first starter magic kit as a birthday present from his mother. Not only was magic a distraction from the hard life of being an outcast, but it sparks an enduring friendship that would soon lead them to Las Vegas stardom. After spending over a decade on the top of the Vegas show circuit, Burt and Anton are soon dethroned by stunt magic marvel Steve Grey, played by Jim Carrey. Steve Grey’s street magic camera show “Brain Rapist” plays off of the ridiculousness of the new modern street magic craze made famous by the likes of David Blaine and Vegas’s own “Mind Freak” Criss Angel. In an age where magic has traded old-fashioned card tricks and top-notch illusions for over the top stunt work, Burt not only finds his outdated Vegas show plummeting to its death but is completely oblivious to it. Wonderstone, once a boy with a dream turned ego maniac, loses his partner, his assistant and the adornment of his fans.
Carell dives head first into the character but might have just missed the landing. At times when the movie’s magic tricks and wonderment were winning me over, the persistent nonstop, over the top antics might have hurt the movie’s chances of being a Carell classic. It’s obvious that he was meaning to make the role an extreme spectacle of a Vegas magician, but he took it a step too far and just became obnoxious. However, Carrey’s wit and humor tied very well with the mockery of today’s so-called magicians that simply do stunt work packaged up as magic. For someone who hasn’t really enjoyed Jim Carrey since Dumb and Dumber, I thought he did a fantastic job as the nemesis of Wonderstone. He was the perfect combination of theatrical and creepy, a la Criss Angel. There were a few really funny moments during the movie, but the majority of the joke attempts just fell flat. Maybe working with a better script would have saved this movie from itself.
All in all the movie had promise and I really did root for it to be a winner, but I left the theatre feeling like it was just average.