Don Scardino’s The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is the latest magician comedy to have been released a decade too late. Burt Wonderstone is a middling comedy effort that provides a few good chuckles, but mostly feels dated, irrelevant and often-times too reliant on Jim Carrey’s over-the-top turn as the “new school” magician versus Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi’s old school magician mentality. I’ve seen much worse, but I’ve also seen much better.
Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) have always wanted to be magicians. They became friends in their early childhood years and went on to be a successful duo on the Las Vegas strip. Sadly, Wonderstone has fallen into the glitz and glamour of the famous life and instead of acknowledging that their fan base is shrinking he simply chooses to rehash the same nightly gig over and over until it’s too late.
There’s a new magician in town by the name of Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) and despite his lack of actual magic he seems to be winning the audiences over quickly. Now, Wonderstone must set aside his gigantic ego in hopes of creating a new act to overcome Gray and his “new school” magic, which is basically a variation of Fear Factor, but on steroids.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is simply just another studio comedy that’s mostly playing catch up with the times. Magic hasn’t really been all that popular in the last decade, which holds the film back almost immediately, because it just doesn’t feel all that relevant. It also doesn’t help that director Don Scardino relies too much on Steve Carell’s one-dimensional turn as the film’s main character.
Carell hasn’t really landed that many successful roles outside of The Office and Anchorman, because when it comes to mainstream comedies he mostly does the same thing over and over. He’s almost always an idiotic show-boater that learns such basic life lessons by the time the film’s over. Burt Wonderstone isn’t anything different and the only real reason that Carell becomes acceptable is because he surrounds himself with much better talent, like Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde (okay, maybe that’s a stretch), the late James Gandolfini and Jim Carrey.
Carrey excels the most as the film’s over-the-top and crazy character Steve Gray. It’s always a treat seeing the actor chew up each and every scene and turn funny moments into downright hilarious ones. His performance in Burt Wonderstone is the highlight of the film and without him the entire project would have most-likely went up in flames.
Buscemi, Wilde and Gandolfini help the film out too and must not be forgotten, because they have the difficult task of carrying the film during the scenes that mostly focus on Steve Carell. Wilde comes out ahead as the biggest surprise performance, because she’s mostly been known for playing on-screen eye candy and not much else. Here she’s funny and quick and holds her own against the other talent very well. Buscemi and Gandolfini are given much more brief bursts of time to deliver their jokes, yet they still manage to squeeze in a few memorable lines.
And that’s what The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is — a film with a few memorable lines and not much of anything else. I’ve seen much worse in terms of comedies or magician-centered films, but I’ve also seen better. The ending really does bring the film up a notch, but everything leading up to that point is middle-of-the-road quality comedy that should be working on a much stronger level considering the talent involved.
Burt Wonderstone struggles looking all that incredible, which is troubling for a film that takes place in the flashy and always lively Las Vegas. The set pieces and colorful costumes pop with pristine clarity, but skin tones are soft and undefined, while most of the film’s attention to sharper detail is mediocre at best. This isn’t an awful-looking transfer or anything, but one that should glow much brighter than it actually does.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is a front-loaded track that gets high marks for maintaining a strong focus on dialogue. Everything else is simply background noise that jumps around the front channels and rarely bothers with the back ones. Again, not a terrible presentation, but also not one that’ll make you want to show it off to your friends.
Four short special features fill up this disc’s extras category. I’ve detailed them all below. The best one is clearly the Steve Gray Uncut featurette, because Jim Carrey is an absolute riot:
- Deleted Scenes and Alternate Takes (HD)
- Making Movie Magic with David Copperfield (HD)
- Steve Gray Uncut (HD)
- Gag Reel (HD)
- DVD Copy
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
Dan Scardino’s The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a sometimes funny, but mostly forgettable film. Jim Carrey is the main reason I’d suggest this one as a last-minute rental, otherwise I’d avoid it until the film drops on cable.
Though not necessarily a bad movie, it’s incredibly mediocre and not nearly funny enough to consider spending your hard-earned dollars on. WB’s Blu-Ray seems to fall in line with the quality of the film too, as the video and audio are both average affairs, while the special features are short and sometimes sweet. If you’re really dying to see this one, give it a rent. Otherwise, it’s probably not worth your time.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.