UK Release Date: 15th March 2013
Runtime: 100 minutes
Director: Don Scardino
Writer: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley
Starring: Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, Alan Arkin, James Gandolfini
Synopsis: A pair of famed Las Vegas magicians have their supremacy challenged by an edgy street act who brings about a change in their profession.
If ever a film perfectly exemplified the sorry state of Hollywood comedy, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is that film. It plays everything so safe that it forgets to even attempt to be funny. Given the comedic talent involved, this really should’ve been an awful lot better.
Steve Carell is woefully miscast as the titular hedonistic, ageing illusionist who has been performing the same routine with his partner (Steve Buscemi) for a decade. When a controversy-baiting daredevil street magician (Jim Carrey) begins stealing the duo’s thunder, they decide to stage their own stunt.
Carell tries his best, but the arrogance needed for the role doesn’t materialise and the script leaves no room for Steve Buscemi to provide worthwhile support. Jim Carrey is hamstrung by a role that merely requires him to gurn and jump about a bit as only he can. Only Alan Arkin, as an inspiring elder statesman of magic, is worth the ticket price, in another of his excellent supporting performances.
There is definitely a funny film lurking somewhere within the premise of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. It’s just not been brought to the fore by Goldstein and Daley’s lacklustre script. The rise of stunt-based street magic is definitely calling out for a parody, but there’s nothing here to make this a comedy worth a second watch. It’s too busy appealing to the PG-13 crowd, which is presumably why its 15 certificate in the UK has all but buried it. As with Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, the target audience can’t get in.
There’s nothing in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone that justifies seeking it out. Expect to soon see it only as a difficult trivia question in movie quizzes.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.