It is hard to believe that there has yet to be a comedy that lampoons the entity that is the Las Vegas magician. In the hands of screenwriters Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, with Steve Carell and Jim Carrey as dueling Sin City magicians fighting for supremacy, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone strikes comic gold.
Carell is Burt Wonderstone, who we first meet as a child who is picked on by almost everyone. When he gets a magic kit for his birthday, Burt has found his calling. It is then that he meets Anton, who also shares his passion for magic tricks, and the two form an immediate bond. Fast forward 30 years and Burt and Anton (Steve Buscemi) are headliners at Bally’s Casino and at the top of their game as one of the world’s premier magic acts.
Carrey is a Criss Angel-like, street-wise magician who is nipping at Burt and Anton’s heels. He is attracting quite a lot of attention on the streets of Las Vegas performing “tricks” that he broadcasts to his followers online. “Monkey porn” is how Carell’s Wonderstone describes his magic -- such as holding in his urine for 12 days or, as seen in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone trailer, sleeping on a bed of coals.
This is truly Carell’s movie. Carrey has more of a supporting part, and what each does with their roles is pure comic mastery.
Carell makes movie magic out of his magician who has grown so egotistical that it borders on insanity. And he is just the actor for that part. Carell takes what was given on the page and hits a grand slam of it, playing off his esteemed co-stars (Alan Arkin, James Gandolfini, Olivia Wilde and Buscemi) with bouncing of the walls hilarity.
Also, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone may be Carrey’s best work in years. He dives into the slithery world of his character and not only hits a home run, but Carrey sends the audience into the stratosphere with this hilarious turn.
And do not get me started on the genius that is Buscemi. The man, an admitted huge comedy fan, has become more largely known for his dramatic work -- such as his Emmy-winning role in Boardwalk Empire. But this is the same actor who has stolen scenes from Adam Sandler in several of the comedian's films.
To see the joyous jostle between Buscemi and Carell is as delightful as the one between Carell and Carrey. We have a note for Hollywood casting: Put Steve Buscemi in more comedies! Want proof? Check out this The Incredible Burt Wonderstone UK trailer.
Wilde is solid, but not utilized as much as she could have been -- perhaps the story truly did not require it. And Arkin makes the most of the time he’s given as an aging magician who not only inspired Wonderstone as a child, but who could prove the key to his future.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is not the perfect film. There are the predictable turns, such as the rise and fall and rise again (?) of certain characters. But you will laugh. You will laugh a lot. It is funny, memorable and most importantly… is never cheesy. For a comedy based on Vegas magicians starring Carrey and Carell… our The Incredible Burt Wonderstone review can firmly state that that may be the highest praise of all.