From the outside, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone looks like a predictable Hollywood comedy. And this is one of those occasions you can judge a book by its cover, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Friends since they were kids, Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton have come from unpopular geeky school kids to superstar magicians with a residency on the Las Vegas strip, but there’s trouble in paradise. With their show quickly growing stale, their friendship more strained than ever and a new daredevil magician on the block, Burt must at last step outside of his comfort zone if he’s to save his career and relationship with Anton.
Burt Wonderstone is as formulaic as they come but that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining. A lot is riding on Steve Carell’s performance as while the rest of the cast is filled with A-List stars, it’s Carell who finds himself in pretty much every scene. Showing a more arrogant, womanising side, Carell plays against his nice guy stereotype with decent effect. But maybe the film needed some more screen time for his co-stars; the excellent variety provided by on-form Olivia Wilde and Alan Arkin could have brought the film that crucial dynamism if they’d been given more of a chance.
That there are enough laughs to keep you going isn’t thanks to Jim Carrey either. Playing an unapologetic rip-off of David Blane, he struggles to impose himself as the movie’s villain, and Burt’s darker side is sucked into the empty void instead.
Director Don Scardino’s first feature film after long and successful careers on Broadway and in TV, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is polished and smooth if unadventurous and safe. Screenwriting hot properties John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (Horrible Bosses) penned the script, and while it’s another effort which lacks depth and real emotional involvement, they’re certainly proving themselves as dependable, if not exceptional, talents.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone doesn’t try anything new but in playing it safe they’ve still found a healthy number of laughs along the way too.