The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Starring Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi, Alan Arkin and Olivia Wilde
Directed by Don Scardino
In UK Cinemas March 15, 2013

by Joanna Orland

You can tell by merely glancing at the poster that this film is genuinely hilarious.  Steve Carell plays magician Burt Wonderstone, with Steve Buscemi at his side as best friend and magic partner Anton Marvelton.  The story starts early in their lives as young school children, the outcasts of their school, with no other friends but each other, and a love of brainstorming magic trick ideas.  Fast forward about 30 years and the pair are headlining a Vegas stage with a nightly sellout show to hordes of fans, and the lovely Olivia Wilde as their magician’s assistant.  Magician rival Steve Gray, also known as the “Brain Rapist”, challenges Burt and Anton with his erratic form of street magic, and is played impeccably by the very funny Jim Carrey.

This is a brilliant parody of the Vegas magic scene which really does exist, in spite of how ridiculously it is portrayed in this film.  Burt and Anton are very much based on famed magicians Siegfried and Roy, but sans tiger.  A tiger attack reference still finds its way into the film nonetheless.  Steve Gray is blatantly based on rebel street magicians David Blaine and Criss Angel, played with a vicious deadpan sincerity that is most definitely the highlight of this film.  It was Steve Gray that had the audience in fits of laughter at each appearance, with some of the most quotable lines of the film, including the brilliant use of “Your skin makes me cry.”.  His physical comedy is underplayed to perfection, his comic timing genius.  This is one of Jim Carrey’s finer performances as a comedy actor.

The other highlight of this film is Alan Arkin as retired magician and childhood hero of Burt, Rance Holloway.  Yet another scene-stealing performance from Alan Arkin, rivaled only by Jim Carrey.  All in all, this film doesn’t need Steve Carell or Olivia Wilde, as it is all of the supporting characters that make this film as funny and ridiculous as it is.  Including a cameo by real life Vegas magician David Copperfield.

While the plot plays out predictably, serious laughs are had along the way.  Directed by 30 Rock director Don Scardino, and co-written by John Francis Daley of Freaks and Geeks fame, this film sits amongst classic modern comedies such as Dodgeball and Tropic Thunder, you could perhaps even imagine Ben Stiller as Burt, and Owen Wilson as Anton, so much so you’d think the script was written with them in mind – the wigs certainly were.

For fans of American comedy films, this is a must see.  It stands above the rest of the dime a dozen Jason Bateman as the underdog comedies that keep coming out once a month.  This one has such funny moments in it, I am still giggling uncontrollably hours after having seen it.

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