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Article by Teddy Durgin

Wonderstone: Not Incredible, But Quite Funny I admit it. Movie reviewers and those who write headlines for movie reviews can be such jerks sometimes. Hundreds of people spend months - heck, years - making a movie, bringing a story to the big screen, pouring their creative energies into a film... and just because that movie has a title that's easy to bag on, guys like me can dismiss a flick in just a few words. Oh, how that must make the casts and crews bitter! Take "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," for instance. This is a good comedy, folks. Not a great one. It certainly has its problems and shortcomings. So, what are most reviewers picking up on? Ooooh, that it's not... INCREDIBLE! If this continues, later this summer get ready for "The Good Gatsby" and "The So-So Spider-Man." 'Cause why aim high? At any rate, "Burt Wonderstone" (let's just call it that for the purposes of this review) stars Steve Carell as the title character. Wonderstone is a master magician, who along with his partner, Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi), has been playing to sold-out shows in Las Vegas for years. Their illusions are flashy, old-school deceptions of the sawing-a-woman-in-half variety. These bits have also become boring and routine for the two performers, who have known each other since grade school but now can't stand each other. Into their lives come two people. The first is Jane (Olivia Wilde), a beautiful assistant with dreams of being a star magician herself. The second is Steve Gray (a fantastic Jim Carrey), a Criss Angel/David Blaine style of showman who is more into stunts and human spectacle than actual magic. His performances almost always center on doing physical harm to himself. Audiences flock to his new kind of shtick, and Burt and Anton soon find themselves out on the street. While Anton goes on a voyage of self-discovery, the movie focuses solely on the egotistical Burt who is cast out of Sin City and finds work performing in an assisted living facility. There, he meets Rance Holloway (the always wonderful Alan Arkin), the magician who inspired him as a young boy and who will inspire him again to "rediscover the magic." I think "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" is one of those movies that gets funnier the longer it goes on, which is kind of a rarity these days. Too many big-screen comedies seem to peter out and lose steam well before their closing credits. But "Wonderstone" is different, if only because the title character is SUCH an unlikable jerk for most of the movie's first-half. The more likable he gets, the better the movie becomes. Here's a case where the supporting cast carries the movie until the star finds his footing. Carrey really goes for broke here in a secondary role. You can see it in his eyes. He hasn't had this much fun in a role in years. And I think part of it is, he's a member of an ensemble here and doesn't have to carry the picture. Arkin, meanwhile, comes into the flick at just the right time. He and Carell were wonderful in their few scenes together in "Little Miss Sunshine." And they are awesome as mentor-student here, resurrecting each other's joy of performing. And if you love magic, there are probably 50 or 60 tricks performed throughout the course of this movie from simple sleight of hand to a climactic ruse that has to be seen to be believed. Remember when I wrote earlier that the film gets better and funnier the longer it goes on? Well, I have to say this movie has one of the funniest last two minutes in years! Sure, in the end, the film isn't "Incredible." But forgive its title and go see it anyway. "The Very Good Burt Wonderstone" just wouldn't have cut it either.

"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" is rated PG-13 for sexual content, dangerous stunts and language.

 

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