When a street magician’s stunts begins to make their show look stale, superstar magicians Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton look to salvage on their act – and their friendship – by staging their own daring stunt.
Magic seems to be a genre focal point this time of year with the recent “Now you See Me” arriving at box offices and a smattering of “magic” titled releases on their way. The film “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013)” is one such title that while seemingly more rooted in its comedic efforts actually manages to absurd up the trend with some trickery and a few bizarre darker tricks to boot.
The attraction here is of course the star studded cast of Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, and Jim Carrey playing a range of magicians both old school and new. Let’s not forget actress Olivia Wilde who also makes her stake as a budding women magician-former assistant. The idea which is very apparent and then sometimes mockingly fun (which is called out by more astute viewers and lovers of the art) is poking fun at the trends and its heroes themselves. Magician David Copperfield who is interesting poked fun at also makes an appearance to show his good nature. Jim Carrey who plays the narcissistic and ego-minded Steve Gray takes a stab at the new flock of magicians such as David Blaine and Criss Angel with his POV camera antics played up in the streets for on lookers.
His ego and “type” of tricks used borrow from the materials that his inspirations have done (only exploit them ten fold). Examples illustrate this notion such as laying on a bed of coals (or rather spending the night on them). Other bizarre trick show Gray spitting up pinata candy, cutting a hole in his face and drilling a “drill straight into his skull. The best part I found here was the showing of Earl sewing up his face (after a trick that was supposed to “be” a trick) revealed as just going to extremes to win a crowd over. This idea is not too far off from what we “sometimes” suspect from our real TV showcased practitioners.
These dark street tricks of course are way beyond what noted magicians do, but are played up to showcase the absurdity and lengths at times that magicians will go to get noticed. Jim Carey strays less away from his usual comedy and embraces this darker version that might be more relative to his acting style in “Cable Guy”.
On the other hand (and the real story here) is the lifelong friendship between 2 magicians who have been doing a combo-partner act for years on the strip. Steve Carell plays Burt Wonderstone with Steve Buscemi as Anton Marveltonk. The story begins when they were children (and having a fascination for creating magic tricks) taking them up to the present during their nightly Las Vegas showcase acts.
In fact the story really finds them at a crossroads of which their old routine (always accompanied by the song “abracadabra”) is losing ground and interest to the new style magicians, such as in this case, “Steve Gray”. Their box office draws have slowed and they are at a point where the club owner Doug Munny (James Gandolfini) is contemplating finding a newer hipper act to replace them.
It’s great fun as the pompous nature of Burt Wonderstone is humbled against falling from Vegas showcases to entertaining seniors and grocery stores. While much of the drama is really overacted for comedic reasons here, it’s surely fun to watch. Somewhere along the line is a message about friendship, respect. and not taking everything for granted. One highlight has the team trying a “hotbox” trick that has them staying suspended in a clear box hovering over onlookers as they try and stick it out for several days. This trick is of course poking fun at the Blaine exploits but is rightly appropriate. Olivia Wilde as Jane is charming, hot and all of that in between. Jane brings Burt down to ground level so he can properly re-asses his career and behavior.
In all I really enjoyed this Don Scardino-directed film. However, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” box office returns were less than expected with some critics really not “getting” it and causing more damage to its release. Though, if you are a fan of magic and understand the suggestive humor, then you will surely feel at home with some of the gags pulled off here. I’d say its kid-friendly however Carey does a few non-kid level tricks that are meant to be absurd but not copied, so parents beware. Check it out, it’s a good time and a fun film…………… period.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013)