‘The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’ Movie Review – Inexcusable Expectations
It is easy to go into movies with a bit of bias. Completely ignoring internal factors is impossible, no matter what you say. For me, this has often led to liking movies more than they probably deserved. With a movie like The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, the cast of Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, and Jim Carrey automatically makes this a movie I could potentially like more than it deserves. On the flipside, maybe it creates unfair expectations about what is to come. When it is all said and done, the lack of humor is inexcusable, and the film as a whole can be blamed on more than just high expectations.
Taking place primarily in Las Vegas, Burt Wonderstone (Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Buscemi) are aging magicians who have lost sight of what magic is all about. After their rise and fall, they are left on the outside looking in at the future of magic: Steve Gray (Carrey).
A wealthy casino owner (James Gandolfini) has plans to build a new casino and his search for talent pits the magicians against each other. The rest becomes a kind of redemption story as Wonderstone tries to restore his tarnished image. He enlists the help of his lifelong inspiration (Alan Arkin) and a beautiful up-and-coming magician (Olivia Wilde).
With a great setting – which turns out to be one of the better aspects of the film – and an interesting-but-not-overdone scenario (magic), The Incredible Burt Wonderstone has potential from the onset. Even if you think magic (or illusions) are childish, it’s hard not to see any entertainment.
Sporting some not-so-awesome hair styles, the three seasoned comedians try their hardest to make this movie a comedy. That seems to be the biggest problem, though, because the movie isn’t just missing laugh-out-loud moments, but it is missing almost all comedy. And, unfortunately, Carell and Carrey are the ones that miss their mark the most. In fact, Buscemi is about the only comedic highlight.
It’s not just the humor either, because both Wonderstone and Gray don’t really deserve our time. Wonderstone is more than just an arrogant show-off, and Gray is too over-the-top. Their attempts to redeem Wonderstone’s character are undermined by the first half of the film.
With a lack of fruitful characters or genuinely hilarious dialogue (there are some decently funny set-ups), the majority of the film is grasping at whatever it can. This, unfortunately, means it relies on built-up starpower.
So how much do expectations play into how good or bad this movie ends up? I think it actually works against the film in many ways because it seems like the filmmakers thought previous knowledge (how much we love the three comedians) was enough alone to make a box office hit. However, it proves (as if it weren’t proved before), you need a good script and a decent story to make a good movie…comedy or not.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone opened in wide release this weekend, and it is most likely playing at a theater near you.
Follow me on Twitter @jmacle