It is unclear if “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is a tribute to classic magicians or a mockery of that genre of entertainment. Either way, what could have worked ten years ago, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is not relevant anymore. References to Siegfried and Roy, David Blaine, and Criss Angel might not even be recognized by youthful audiences.
Young Burt (Mason Cook) is in awe of famed magician Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin) and is inspired to practice his own tricks. His best friend Anton (Luke Vanek) becomes his partner and they become inseperable. After many years of success and fortune, Burt (Steve Carell) and Anton (Steve Buscemi) have stopped innovating their art and their friendship has grown stale. Burt is obsessed with fame and women, quickly insulting their assistant and novice magician Jane (Olivia Wilde). The final straw to break up the partnership comes in form of over-the-top, edgy stunt magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey). Burt must find magic again to reunite with his friend and earn his stardom again.
The film’s focus on the changes in magic over the years can be appreciated by all that grew up being impressed by magic. It emphasizes the special art in simple magic with cards and little objects, though the tribute is lost when one begins to question if the tricks are CGI. Though the modern style of extreme stunts and dangerous tricks are shown for the absurdity, the homage to what has become a disappearing art form is watered down as you question its authenticity.
There are few good laughs in “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” despite its comedic cast. Steve Carell is at his most obnoxious, going too far to be smarmy and cocky. Jim Carrey is spot on, but his character is annoying. Alan Arkin and Steve Buscemi are both underutilized. The only actor that uses just the right amount of humor and sincerity is Olivia Wilde. The only audiences that will enjoy “Burt Wonderstone” are Carell’s fans.
Rating for “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone:” C-
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.
“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is playing at most theaters in Columbus, including Gateway and Arena Grand. For showtimes, click here.