The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, and Olivia Wilde, may not be comedy gold…. or even comedy silver, but hell, it’s at least a strong comedy bronze. Is that a thing?
Moving from the realm of directing TV shows to directing his first feature film, Don Scardino feels a little out of his element. Considering the cast should have been a knockout, it’s a bit puzzling why so many jokes fall flat. Well, not really. Comedy movies rely pretty much entirely on timing and gross over-exaggerations. Burt Wonderstone lingers just a bit too long on jokes that don’t have a solid punchline to begin with, and Steve Carell comes across much too reserved in his performance to execute the leading role.
The story was something fresh I felt. It was the story of an entertainer at the top of his game, hitting rock bottom, and then rising again to defeat all odds (Well, that part isn’t fresh…). The twist being that it’s about magicians. In theory this felt like an opportunity for comedy gold in the same vein as Talladega Nights with Will Ferrell, but in the end I just wish Will Ferrell and John C. Reiley had actually replaced Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi in this. If wishes were horses then poor men would ride…
But I didn’t hate it really. It made me feel good to watch and I enjoyed all the blatant Criss Angel jokes, even though I would have enjoyed some subtler touches. Now and then the movie surprises with a joke that just works, hook, line, and sinker. They are often juxtaposed against a story we have heard before, that isn’t given much new life here. It really succeeds as a “feel good movie”, but doesn’t do much in the form of a comedy (although it tries).
As said before, Steve Carell seems far too reserved in this role and the comedy suffers for it. Jim Carrey on the other hand delivers, even though it isn’t his best work. Playing an over exaggerated Criss Angel parody named Steve Gray, Carrey is still a delight to see every time he is on screen. Olivia Wilde is beautiful and charming every second she is on-screen and I wish her character was utilized more than a shoe horned love interest. Steve Buscemi is an… odd choice I’d say. Playing Steve Carell’s partner he is equal parts harmless, but in the end trivial.
It isn’t a long movie so it wouldn’t hurt your time to give it a chance and you’ll know within the first 15 minutes whether it is going to make you laugh or not (plenty of time to get your ticket $ back).