Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, dangerous stunts, a drug-related incident and language
Markus Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Now playing at Century 20 Oakridge Mall in San Jose, California:
Before I begin, I realize that I’m going to come off as a little biased towards this particular film, simply because I was such a huge fan of magic growing up. So, with that said, if you’re not a fan of magic, or weren’t at some point in your life, and wish to read an unbiased review of “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”, then, what can I tell you? Go read someone else’s review.
“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is the funniest thing Steve Carell has done since “The 40 Year Old Virgin”. And, even though I thought “I Love You Phillip Morris” (a film nobody saw) was an excellent movie, this particular comedy about a silly little magician rivalry contains the funniest (and most watchable) performance Jim Carrey has given in over a decade.
The premise surrounds nerdy boyhood best friends, who grow up to become the infamous stage magicians Burt Wonderstone (Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi); sort of an American version of Siegfried and Roy without the tiger. They advertize themselves as having “a magical friendship”, as their outdated act stands as the featured attraction on the Vegas strip. But when a Criss Angel-esque street magician named Steve Gray begins to take the duo’s fan base away by performing a myriad of gruesome and outlandish “magic tricks”, Wonderstone and Marvelton must find a way to freshen up their act before their style of magic is left in the past.
The Acting: Yes this film also stars Olivia Wilde and Alan Arkin. And yes, Wilde doesn’t really do anything but participate as the very weak love interest, and Arkin continues his long standing decision to play himself (as long as the Oscar nominations keep rolling in) BUT the overwhelming reason this film works so well is due to a few perfectly realized characters. Jim Carrey does such a spot on Criss Angel (from the title of his show, to the gross-out factor of his act) that every time he is on screen, the comedic bar is raised substantially. As for Carell, he portrayals a pompous headliner with such egotistical verve, that his performance can only be described as Michael Scott-esque. Even Buscemi, who is not at all a comedic actor, is used strategically well, as a sort of comedic voice of reason.
Final Thought: While I understand that a majority of critics have called this film a “hit and miss”, focusing on the simplistic storyline rather than the hilarious performances, or hiding behind the vastly overused “all comedy is subjective” theory, which some critics fall back on in order to undersell funny movies, it is my opinion that many of these “rotten tomato” opinions are unfairly misguided. The writing team of John Francis Daley (known best for his role on “Freaks and Geeks”) and Jonathan Goldstein have manufactured a script that is as smart and witty as last year’s “21 Jump Street”, and more importantly, worthy of two of the best comedic actors of this generation. OK, so this film is not perfect by any means. There is an unnecessary love story jammed in the middle of this thing, and I can understand how the initial twenty minutes may bore some audiences, especially if you aren’t a fan of magic or wouldn’t be caught dead watching an episode of “Mind Freak”. BUT, I will say that after its initial bumpiness, the rest of “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is consistently entertaining, delivering a multitude of well formulated (early Apatow-esque) laughs. And what more could you ask for from a comedy in March?
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