The Incredible Burt Wonderstone movie review: Cups and balls
Move over Penn and Teller — there’s a new dynamic duo on the Vegas strip! Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi celebrate their “magic friendship” on stage until a Criss Angel wannabe steals the show. Jim Carrey shines in this cheap-trick comedy.
3 Stars: Perfect for Criss Angel Mindfreak haters
Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) meet in middle school and bond over their nerdiness. Once they learn every trick in the Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin) magic kit, they rise above their dorkdom and head for Las Vegas, where their show becomes a smash success.
After so many years together, their "magic friendship" has become mind-numbing. Bickering over everything like an old, married couple, they are shocked to learn of a new style of magician who is threatening to make Burt and Anton's audience disappear.
Looking like a goth, S&M yoga rat, Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) sports long blond hair with six-inch black roots. Most of his gorilla-style stunts are performed without his shirt to let the ladies ogle his ripped muscles and chain-link tattoos.
Steve Gray quickly dominates the magic scene with his self-mutilations and pain-enduring whack-acts. Burt and Anton are soon scrambling not only to compete with Steve Gray but also to save their show.
Every moment Jim Carrey is on screen, I felt like I was under his magic spell. Since when did he become so hot? His hours at the gym have really upped his sex appeal. I would love to see him in a Get Him to the Greek–style sequel to this movie, focusing on the misadventures of Steve Gray alone.
Olivia Wilde plays Burt and Anton's magic assistant, but the filmmakers give her very little to do other than console Steve Carell's ego. Maybe this lovely, talented actress can join Jim Carrey in his spin-off movie. (Dare I call it Steve Gray: Misfit of B-oddity?)
Bottom line: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is clever and funny, even if the story meanders while searching for a through-line. Steve Carell is charming but waving his magic wand in very familiar territory. It was great to see Steve Buscemi step into a comedic role, but Jim Carrey really steals the show.
The runtime is 100 minutes, and there are no funny extras after the credits. The film is in theaters now.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.