The Incredible Burt Wonderstone review

“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” is a film that has a lot of comedic heavy hitters and yet it all goes wrong so fast.

The film follows the story of the title character played by Steve Carell. Burt Wonderstone is a Las Vegas magician who puts on a show with his friend Anton Marvelton, played by Steve Buscemi, and finds a great deal of success. For a good number of years, things go well for Burt, however as time goes on people grow tired of the show and the theater becomes more and more empty.

Meanwhile, a new magician named Steve Gray, played by Jim Carrey, comes onto the scene and does more extreme tricks and daring stunts. The film sets its plot around Wonderstone having to get his career back on track and outdo Steve Gray.

The script for “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” felt like it was written back in either 1999 or 2000 and left on a shelf to collect dust. There is nothing new or refreshing about the plot, as it feels very formulaic. This can be OK in a comedy movie if the film actually makes a person laugh. Unfortunately, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” fails on that aspect, too. All the jokes and gags are old and it was difficult to even force a chuckle as this film went on.

So if the story and plot are both bad and the comedic writing is poor, the acting of good comedians can sometimes save a flick. Not in the case of “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” though. Every single bit of acting from each of the performers felt phoned in. The whole cast, Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey and Olivia Wilde, never breathed any life into their characters, nor did their usual comedic timing spruce things up. It all came off as dull, like the actors didn’t even want to be there.

Not that there was much for them to do in the first place. Each character in the movie feels hollow. You could take Burt Wonderstone’s character and replace Steve Carell with, say, Will Farrell, and it wouldn’t have made a difference. The same can be said about Olivia Wilde’s character, who plays a rather generic romantic interest for the main character and not much more.

“Wonderstone” is a disappointment, because in theory, the idea behind the flick isn’t bad. However, the execution just isn’t there. Every bit of the film looked like it had been done so lazily. From the acting to the writing to the lame attempts at trying to give the movie a heart with the story. It feels like it was just another mass produced film to make a quick buck, which is too bad considering the talented actors in this film.

I like the work of Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey, and would figure this would’ve been something better. The opposite turned out to be true though as the movie falls flat on its face and delivers next to zero laughs. 1 out of 5.

This review was first published in the March, 23 2013 issue of the Wahpeton Daily News.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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