Occasionally a movie will surprise audiences.
That’s the case with The Incredible Burt Weatherstone, the latest effort from comedic actor Steve Carell (The Office, The 40 Year Old Virgin).
Based on casting alone – Carell, veteran character actor Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey and Alan Arkin – it possesses the acting pedigree to be an enjoyable comedy. But the premise is one that would make a lot of movie fans think twice before plunking down hard earned cash.
Carell and Buscemi star as Burt and Anton, life-long friends who shared a passion for magic as kids and turned it into respectable careers. They’ve reached the pinnacle of their trade landing a decade-long gig at a Las Vegas casino.
Unfortunately, Burt has also grown a narcissistic personality and elephant-sized ego. But unfortunately for him, his world is going to crash. When Steve Grey, a Criss Angel-like character starts pulling Anton and Burt’s audience out of their theater, they’re pressured to match his edgy magic. Burt, a traditionalist, balks at the prospect. Anton convinces him to try it in order to save their gig and comes up with an appropriate act that Burt accidentally and hilariously sabotages, causing the two of them to split.
While what the rift does to Burt is wholly predictable, how it’s handled isn’t. While he wallows in his misfortune, the film’s writing team does the same crafting some memorable comedic moments.
They could have easily taken Wonderstone down an all-too-familiar path comedically. Instead, they throw the audience a twist and the movie turns into a subversive little comedy with a hint of a mean streak that shows in the plot.
It gives the movie a definite feeling of being pulled in different directions, but eventually a balance takes over.
It helps that the entire cast delivers in their respective roles. Carrey, who has been absent from the screen, shows a flair for deranged villainy (big surprise), and knocks his portrayal of Grey up a notch or two to borderline manic.
Buscemi, who is best known for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, has always shown skill in his character roles whether they came in films such as The Big Lewbowski or the over-the-top Con Air.
As for Carell, appreciating his allure as an actor has never been one of my strong suits. He’s been enjoyable in spots, but in Weatherstone, he’s perpetually hilarious.
If a problem exists with The Incredible Burt Wonderstone it comes courtesy of a runtime that director Don Scardino could have cut by a good 10 minutes in the editing process. Other than that, he takes his cast’s talents and allows them to do the heavy lifting. The result: a light, subversive piece of fluff.
Movie: The Incredible Burt Weatherstone
Director: Don Scardino
Cast: Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, Alan Arkin
Studio: Warner Bros.
Rated: PG-13 (sexual innuendo, alcohol consumption, self abuse)
Running time: 100 minutes
George’s rating: 3.5-of-5 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com