Almost every adolescent boy goes through the magic phase. My youngest son did. He loved learning tricks, visiting our local magic store and taking lessons from older magicians. But like most young men, eventually he tired of it and moved on to another hobby. It was a delightful time for both of us as I knew he still believed in a little magic.
"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," tells the story of a pair of successful Las Vegas magicians Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) that have been performing the same cheesy magic tricks and illusions for years.
Their meeting in school was one of innocence and joy as they became friends and learned magic tricks together. The Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin) magic set that Burt received as a birthday present took the young boys all the way to become professional magicians. But by the time their act had become stale, their friendship had completely dissolved.
When their newest magician's assistant, Jane (Olivia Wilde), came on board the friends barely spoke to each other - unless it was to engage in needless bickering. And to make matter worst, a new magician came to change up the game, adding a fresh, yet dangerous twist to the old sleight of hand. This new guy is Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) and he is willing to do just about anything to amaze and make people cringe.
Gray just may be the one magician to end the careers of the successful Burt and Anton. But with a little self-reflection, their new gal pal Jane and a seasoned professional, this duo just might learn to love magic and become friends again.
Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi are convincing as Las Vegas performers that have become too complacent with things. Olivia Wilde is thoroughly entertaining and brings a smart, sexiness to her role. But the best moments in the film are the scenes with Jim Carrey. His character is outrageously funny, think of Criss Angel on steroids and gallons of Red Bull.
"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" is a silly and fun time at the movies. Not all of the gags will bring you laughing, but when the laughs come you fill find yourself enjoying moments of pure and blissful guffaws. No, this is not a film you will treasure for years or really even remember for a long time. But just like a quick trip to Vegas, this film will take the edge off of what ails you in life and allow you to have some plain old fun.
"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" is rated PG-13 for sexual content, dangerous stunts, a drug-related incident and language and has a run-time of 1 hour and 40 minutes.
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Whatever your movie choice this week, please remember your movie theater etiquette: silence your cell phones and no texting, please don't talk during the film and remove your children if they become a distraction to other audience members. Don't forget that laughing, crying and cheering are always approved behavior and even encouraged.
-Kay Shackleton is a film historian with special focus on Silent Films, see her work at SilentHollywood.com