The Incredible Burt Wonderstone takes a jab at Las Vegas magicians like David Copperfield and Siegfried and Roy, and feels like a lame guy showing up to a party with a rubber nose, a squirting flower and a bottle of cheap schnapps.
There’s nothing funny about seeing Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi dressed like Siegfried and Roy, and dancing around to Steve Miller’s “Abracadabra.” And it’s downright distasteful to have a magician in a bar with gauze bandages all over his neck because one of his big cats bit him. Get it? Roy Horn had his neck injured by a tiger during a show, so the dude in the bar is a sly reference to that stage tragedy! Ha ha ha ha!
I’m not saying there isn’t a funny joke about Roy getting mauled out there somewhere. Deep in the far recesses of Hollywood, there must be some writer who can wring a few laughs out of Roy’s partial paralysis and life-threatening loss of blood. I am just saying the folks involved in this movie have failed with the concept.
Really, this movie is douchebag central. It’s a bunch of tired jokes by tired performers on a tired subject. Oh, but David Copperfield makes a cameo. There you go, magic fans!
Carell, who I’m predicting will have to return to TV sooner than later, plays Burt Wonderstone, a Vegas magician headlining at Bally’s. His partner, Anton Marvelton (Buscemi), joins him every night for the same tired magician act, as they run through a sequence of played-out illusions and sexist jokes.
Doug Munny, a casino mogul played by James Gandolfini, wants his headliners to modernize their act. He cites Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) as the modern direction of magic. The Gray character is a hybrid of Criss Angel and David Blaine, and hosts a TV show called “Brain Rape” where he does ungodly things to his face and body. His show is called “Brain Rape,” and Angel had a show called “Mindfreak.” Get it? Ha ha ha ha!
In one of the film’s few funny gags, Burt and Anton attempt a Blaine-style isolation chamber that goes terribly awry. They break up, and Wonderstone’s attempts at a solo career land him at a retirement home doing tricks for aging Vegas showpeople. One of them is Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin), the magician who had a namesake magic set that Burt played with as a child. Their relationship in the film is neither touching nor inspirational, and it certainly isn’t funny.
Very little in the movie is actually funny, although I did laugh a couple of times at the Carrey hijinks. Carrey has always been an incredible physical performer, and he does this thing with one of his eyes after his character drills a hole in his own skull. It’s pretty damned remarkable.
And what has become of Carrey? He’s taking supporting roles in this travesty and the upcoming Kick-Ass 2. I guess he’s having a hard time landing headliner gigs after the bomb that was Mr. Pooper’s Defecating Fat Aquatic Birds That Look Like They Are Wearing Tuxedos, or whatever that movie was called.
The best thing in this movie, by far, is the suit jacket that Olivia Wilde wears late in the film. It’s this cool, jazzy little number that looks like three different tweed jackets from a thrift store stitched together. I’m not being sarcastic; it really is cool-looking, and I want one. Seriously, somebody get on it and start making those jackets for men. I’ll pay at least $50 for that thing.
The movie is directed by Don Scardino, a veteran of many TV shows. He gets credit for pulling the worst big-screen performance out of Steve Carell to date, and those of you who saw Carell’s mopey-faced work in Dan in Real Life know that getting something worse out of Carell is a major feat.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a movie that should’ve never been made, at least not in this century. It would’ve sucked balls before 2000, too, but at least it would’ve been slightly relevant. As it stands, it’s one of those movies you watch unfold in disbelief, wondering how anybody thought it was a good idea.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is playing at theaters across the valley.