March 21, 2013

'Incredible Burt Wonderstone' limp, predictable


---- — “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” isn’t one of those comedies that makes you feel dumber just for being in the theater.

Unfortunately, It’s also not one of those comedies that makes you laugh very much either.

The film boasts a talented cast — it’s hard to go wrong with Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey — but it has a limp and predictable story without a hint of magic.

Carell stars as the title character, a big-haired, sequined magician who has risen to the top of his field, headlining a popular Vegas show with his boyhood friend, Anton Marvelton (Buscemi).

The joke is that the two can no longer stand each other, and both hate the repetitious cheesiness of their wildly popular performances.

Adding to the conflict is the growing popularity of Carrey’s anarchic David Blaine-like street magician Steve Gray, whose “magic” mostly consists of painful stunts and self-mutilation.

Carell’s Burt Wonderstone spends much of the film as an obnoxious diva who reacts poorly when his fortunes turn and he’s forced out on his own.

Inevitably, Wonderstone is going to learn a lesson and gain redemption, but the journey there is safe, dull and expected.

Carrey draws more chuckles than Carell and Buscemi in his short bursts on the screen — though a whole film based on his character would have been tiresome as well.

James Gandolfini adds to the strong cast, though his greedy casino owner is a one-note character. Olivia Wilde plays the film’s would-be love interest, but the role doesn’t give her much more to do than serve as eye candy.

Alan Arkin is on hand as the legendary magician who once inspired Wonderstone, but his screen time is unfortunately limited as the story bounces uncomfortably from slapstick to sentimentality.

“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” had some promise, but not even smoke and mirrors can ultimately hide its flaws.

Rental recommendation: If you want a real magician showdown, try Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan’s excellent “The Prestige.”

Grade: A.

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The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Grade: C

Starring: Steve Buscemi, Steve Carell, Jim Carrey

Rated: PG-13 (for sexual content, dangerous stunts, a drug-related incident and language)

Running time: 100 minutes