Top critical review
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on August 11, 2013
There are movies where the actors are compelled by the amazing script to give their best performances. Then there are movies where the actors read the script, ask their agents "how much are they willing to pay me again?" and go for it, mailing everything in. The latter scenario describes "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," which considering its fairly high caliber of acting power boils down to nothing more than an extremely predictable riches-to-rags-to-redemption story.
Two nerdy eighties kids obsessed by a mail order magician's kit grow up to be Burt Wonderstone (a glammed-up Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (a less glammed-up Steve Buscemi), the magician superstars of the Vegas strip. However, offstage they hate each other and their popularity among the flyover crowds who adore them is being threatened by Steve Gray (Jim Carrey, who fifteen years ago would have starred in this), a "street magician" in the mold of Criss Angel and David Blaine, whose idea of magic is pulling a playing card out of a self-inflicted facial wound and holding his urine for weeks. After an attempt at edgy magic goes awry, Burt and Anton go their separate ways, Anton distributing magic kits to third world children and Burt reduced to entertaining at a nursing home for former Vegas performers. Lo and behold, the magician who inspired him as a child (Alan Arkin) lives at the home and ... I'm sure you can guess the rest.
"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" isn't horrible, it's just REALLY predictable. I felt bad for Olivia Wilde, who's the only one that turns in a credible performance--she's also the only one who delivered a line that made me laugh. However, her character also becomes reduced to cliche. I'm no comedy snob, considering my all-time favorite movie is "Amimal House," but "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" is just another in a very long line of multiplex filler between the summer blockbuster season and the serious award season. It's not memorable, not particularly funny, but if you want to pass two hours I guess it fits the bill.