THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE
Not Always So Magical
Release Date: March 15, 2013
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 100 minutes
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures/Time Warner
Director: Don Scardino
Address Comments To:Kevin Tsujihara, Chairman/CEO, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (New Line Cinema)
Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522-0001
Phone: (818) 954-6000
The movie opens with young Burt discovering magic through a magic kit marketed by world-renowned magician Rance Holloway. Both he and another boy, named Anton, have been bullied at school. Burt and Anton develop a lifelong friendship over their love of magic, which helps them make fools of the bullies.
Years later, Burt (Steve Carell) and Anton (Steve Buscemi) have developed the most successful magic act on the Las Vegas strip. However, success has gone to Burt’s head, and his public friendship onstage with Anton has turned to mutual loathing backstage.
The success of Burt and Anton’s act suddenly disappears when a dynamic street magician, Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), bursts on the scene with his edgy act. One of Steve’s tricks is to goad a bystander into punching Steve in the face. Then, Steve slices into the resulting bump on his face with a knife to pull out a bloody card. Steve’s popularity results in a popular TV show.
There’s still a chance, however, for Burt and Anton to salvage their act, and their friendship. But, can Burt make his huge ego disappear and get back in touch with the things that made him love magic in the first place?
Despite the edgy moments, everyone turns in a good performance in THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE. Also, there are plenty of funny and even heartwarming moments. However, the movie never takes off and soars. Part of the problem is that the comedy is interrupted by a couple gross, violent stunts by Jim Carrey, some lewd innuendo, and plenty of superfluous foul language. As our friend, the great producer Ken Wales, notes, foul language virtually halts a story in its tracks. Such is especially the case with BURT WONDERSTONE, where some of the obscene language is just repeated for no logical reason. For example, a couple times James Gandolfini, who plays the hotel owner who showcases Burt and Anton’s act, just angrily repeats some obscenities to portray his anger. The point is made with just one or maybe two obscenities, so why include three or four? It’s overkill, and overkill seems to be the main problem with the direction by Don Scardino (of TV’s 30 ROCK).
In addition to the foul language, BURT WONDERSTONE contains some strong comic violence. For example, in one trick, the Steve Grey character slices his cheek with a knife. Later, he’s shown sewing up the ugly looking cut in his cheek by himself. In another stunt, Steve goes days without urinating and his TV show does a graphic showing Steve’s body filling up with yellow liquid. That said, there’s a very funny confrontation between Steve and Burt at a magic show Burt is doing for a child’s birthday party. This shows that Carrey is much, much funnier when he’s actually playing off another actor’s character. This scene reminds us of the hilarious scene in BRUCE ALMIGHTY where Carrey makes Steve Carell’s newscaster character miraculously say a bunch of gibberish.
Eventually, THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE extols and evokes such things as friendship, humility, the free market, and the wonder that comes when one finds a magical vocation that inspires one’s heart and soul. In this case, the vocation is being a successful stage magician. Thus, BURT WONDERSTONE does have its magical, morally uplifting moments. MOVIEGUIDE® just wishes it had gone without most of its edgier elements. A little bit of that kind of content goes a very long way.
Everyone turns in a good performance in THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE. There are plenty of funny and even heartwarming moments. However, the movie never takes off and soars. Part of the problem is that it contains too much superfluous foul language. It also has some gross, violent, edgy comedy. Eventually, THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE extols and evokes such things as friendship, humility, the free market, and the wonder that comes when one finds a magical vocation that inspires one’s heart and soul. Thus, BURT WONDERSTONE does have its magical, morally uplifting moments, but the filmmakers should have edited out so many edgy elements. A little bit of that kind of content goes a very long way.