The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Review


When the title “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is heard it is expected for something, well, incredible, or at the least have some incredible aspect. This movie, however, was nearly the opposite. The movie had a promising cast, including Steve Carell (“Hope Springs”), Steve Buscemi (TV’s “Boardwalk Empire”), Jim Carrey (“Mr. Popper’s Penguin”) and Olivia Wilde (“People Like Us”). But it somehow all went awry within the plot somewhere.

The movie begins with a powerful scene. Bullies are chasing Burt (Carell) through the streets. The viewers feel their hearts ache in pity for the young boy. It is clear that Burt had a difficult childhood, and does not have many friends. Even his mother has better things to do than to spend his birthday with him. However, when Burt meets Anton (Buscemi), another nerdy schoolboy like himself, they become friends instantly and bond through magic tricks.

Together they dream up a future where they become incredible, famous magicians. The two manage to make their dreams come true. The duo becomes one of the most famous acts on the Vegas strip, where they have a theater named after them.

This story could have been about how anything is possible, showing how friendless, nerdy boys can make their dreams come true through faith and determination. Perhaps this is part of it, but the main theme remains unclear.

By the time the two have grown up, the potential for Burt turning into a nice, respectable magician vanishes. Burt’s character is the downfall of the entire movie. The audience wants to have a protagonist who they can feel compassion toward and relate to. Burt Wonderstone is the opposite. He is a slimy man who objectifies women in his sexual tendencies, and treats his best friend like scum.

The duo begins to lose popularity when a new magician takes on the street crowds with his amazing acts. Steve Gray (Carrey) is a grotesque character whose show is called “Mind Rape.” The name in itself has something to say for the disgusting acts that he does, such as sleeping on burning coals and cutting his own flesh open. The scenes with him are not the slightest bit enjoyable, and make the audience sick to their stomach. This is not magic; certainly not the same magic that originally enticed Burt and Anton into the trade.

When the act falls apart with Burt and Anton getting in a fight, Burt’s entire career crumbles to pieces. He resorts to living in a run-down motel, which is quite contrary to the lavish lifestyle; he led before with the largest bed in Vegas. It is hard to feel any remorse or sorrow for the man since he is such a repugnant character.

After this traumatic event, there is a glimmer of hope for Burt. He refrains from wearing his glittery show attire and settles back into a normal human life where he is no longer upon a pedestal above everyone else. Perhaps his faith is restored when he stumbles across the man who he idolized as a boy, and whose magic set had gotten him into doing magic tricks in the first place. He finds Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin, “Stand Up Guys”) in a nursing home where he found a job entertaining the elderly.

Burt has an upcoming event where he is to perform magic at his ex-bosses son’s birthday party. Rance agrees to practice tricks with Burt, and go to the birthday party with him. In the usual way-too-frustrating manner of the entire movie, Steve Gray shows up and steals all of Wonderstone’s glory, outdoing every trick that he does.

The end finally pulls at the audience’s heartstrings when Anton and Burt reunite and agree to try again, but this time with their beautiful old assistant Jane (Wilde) who has been aspiring to be a magician herself. In the past Burt has snubbed her because she was a woman and obviously could not be a successful magician. Burt actually falls in love with Jane, so this shows that his womanizing days are finally over at long last.

The cheerful and inspiring ending does not make up for the torture that was endured throughout the duration of the film. The unlikable characters and the lack of storyline make for a mediocre film at best.

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