Directed by: Don Scardino
AH, everyone love magic, and everyone loves a magician, at least that is what Burt Wonderstone (Carell) has believed since he was just 10 years old. That’s when his mother gave him a Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin) magic kit. Well, you see, young Burt (Mason Cook) was one of those kids that was constantly picked on by bullies, so he retreated into magic, along with his new best friend, Anton (Luke Vanek). The two boys bonded over the magic, and as adults, Burt and Anton (Steve Buscemi) wound up headlining in Vegas. Only now it is years later and well, Burt's growing ego, and their now stale magic act (which hasn’t changed in 10 years), coupled with the fact that they have grown to totally loathe each other they are headed for trouble.
Add to their worries, an up-and-coming guerilla street magician named Steve Gray (Carrey) — who is patterned after David Blaine and practices that form of “Performance Magic” which the “real” magicians so clearly distain. As irt turns out, the boys are so staid in their show, and Gray is so fresh, he is seriously cutting into their thunder but also causing the owner of the hotel where they perform (Gandolfini) to reconsider their contract. Now, on the eve of the opening of his new hotel, he is staging a contest among magicians to discover who will be his new headlining act.
Unfortunately the problem with this (very funny) film is that Carell is such a likable kind of guy, but in this movie he really is an unrepentant shmuck. So much so, that he almost buries his (very likable) character. All he is interested in is the rave reviews he gets, and banging everything in a skirt. Needless to say, this casts something of a pall over the entirety of the film (but only because Carell does it so well). To be sure, this is a comedy, so by the end of the film there’'s still a chance that Burt and Anton can not only save their act — both onstage and off —but only if Burt can figure out how to get back in touch with what made him love magic in the first place.
One of the truyly stand-out performances of the film belongs to Alan Arkin who totally steals ever scene in which he appears as the aging Rance Holloway, the magician’s magician, who quite literally inspired a gene ration of young lads to learn how to practice magic. Trust me, this is a funny film, although it does take its time getting there (the final half hour is seriously funny). So we strongly suggest that you check it out
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.