“Those silly wigs and spray tans will get a bit boring after a while, won't they? The answer is no. No they do not.”
You've seen the posters for Don Scardino's The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, and I know what you're thinking. Those silly wigs and spray tans will get a bit boring after a while, won't they? The answer is no. No they do not.
Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) love magic, and when given the chance to have their own Las Vegas show thanks to entrepreneur Doug Munny (James Gandolfini), they flourish, hosting what is arguably the biggest magic show in the world. However that doesn't stop the pair growing increasingly disillusioned with their profession, and particularly for Burt, it's become solely a job and a means to sleeping with attractive young women.
When the new, careless street magician by the name of Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) enters the fray – with a series of life threatening stunts all shot on a handheld device – the gonzo magicians' popularity sees a decrease in audience members at Burt and Anton's show, and it appears that magic is heading down a somewhat unsavoury path. This allows Burt the chance to reevaluate his life, and along with the help of his former assistant Jane (Olivia Wilde) and his biggest influence Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin), he hopes to reignite his love for all things magic – and help take down Gray in the process.
What shines through greatest in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, is a pure, traditionalist love for magic shows, playing out as a satirical piece in parts, with a quite damning take on contemporary street magicians and their inclination to do something outrageous and dangerous just for attention. As a result, it does mean that the majority of the more humorous moments are simply parody magic shows, and although very funny, it is a somewhat easy way to get laughs.
Nonetheless by using the theme of magic, it allows Scardino to get surreal and way over the top, allowing the filmmakers the opportunity to be completely absurd, as they can do tricks that are so amazing and 'magic', that they quite literally couldn't be done. Reality plays no part in this grandiose setup. In a sense there is a similar feel to this that Blades of Glory had, as just a very enjoyable, funny and downright ridiculous comedy that revels within its own inanity. However where this does suffer in comparison, is that Will Ferrell does silly somewhat sillier than Steve Carell.
However that's where Carrey comes into play, as the stand-out performer of the lot. As an actor who has formed a career for himself playing over-the-top, extraordinary characters, in this he is given the licence to be his most outrageous – and it works because he hasn't got a huge amount of screen time, allowing us the perfect amount of Carrey. Any more would be overbearing. The rest of the cast speak for themselves really, and with the likes of Buscemi, Arkin and Gandolfini on board, you are guaranteed a high class comedy.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is conventional of its genre, and doesn't go down any paths you don't expect it to, but as such it's comforting to know that films like this – with the sole purpose of entertaining – still get made. However that said, being more daring every once in a while wouldn't hurt anybody. You know exactly what you're going to get and this doesn't disappoint in the slightest. Oh, and good luck getting Steve Miller Band's Abracadabra out of your head. I'm really struggling.