The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is amazingly funny
The wacky world of Las Vegas magic shows is rife with comedic fodder and a very funny new film, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, taps into the absurdity of the big hair, makeup and egos of those grandiose acts, but still manages to maintain some respect for their eccentric illusionists.
This is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a long time and it showcases some of America’s greatest comedic talent, including Steve Carell as Burt Wonderstone, Steve Buscemi as Burt’s partner Anton Marvelton, Alan Arkin as veteran magician Rance Holloway and the incredible return of Jim Carrey, who is back to full-on funny man form as street magician Steve Gray.
Burt and Anton are lonely bullied kids who turn to magic, inspired by Rance Holloway’s magic kit and video, in order to fit in and get some positive attention. They grow up to become The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton and have a long successful run as the headline act at Doug Munny’s (James Gandolfini) Vegas casino.
The two magicians have built their act around their lifelong friendship, but after years of doing the same thing over and over their stage routine and their relationship has grown stale and they’re told to freshen up the act or face the cancelation of their show.
The friends are old school magicians and they are having trouble competing, or even understanding, the new wave of popular street magicians like Steve Gray (Carrey), who is portrayed as a crazy mix of real-life illusionists Criss Angel and David Blaine. The pseudo philosophical Steve calls himself the “Brain Rapist” (a playful jab at Criss Angel’s “Mind Freak” persona) and he amazes his fans with crude feats of self-mutilation.
Burt and Anton have a literal “falling-out” during their attempt at a street trick called “The Hot Box” and Anton leaves the country to bring magic to the children of third-world countries – even though all they want or need is food & water. Burt tries to perform their act alone but is soon out on the Vegas’ streets, hustling for a gig and a place to stay.
When Burt takes on a job at an old folk’s home he comes across his childhood hero, the now retired Rance Holloway (Arkin), and when Anton returns home the three magicians take on Steve Gray in a contest to win a performance contract at Doug Munny’s newest casino.
Jim Carrey is hilarious in this film and it is so nice to see him back doing what he does best — live-action, cartoon-like caricatures and slapstick comedy. Every time Carrey was on screen I was nearly brought to tears from laughing so hard, and you can’t ask for more than that in a farcical comedy like The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.
Although Carrey easily steals the show, Carell, Buscemi and Arkin are all very funny as well and Olivia Wilde, who is also good as the movie’s romantic interest. Burt Wonderstone is helmed by veteran television director Don Scardino, but with this being his first big feature film he proves he is on the same level as the Farrelly brothers (Dumb & Dumber) and Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) – and that is meant as a compliment.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is written by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (both of Horrible Bosses fame) and they do an excellent job of parodying the Vegas magicians while paying homage to their crazy world. The renowned magician David Copperfield also makes an appearance in this movie as himself and was a consultant on the film.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is easily the best comedy so far this year and its “how did they do that” finale had me still laughing long after I left the theater. That kind of comedy is truly magical.
Photos © 2013 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.