The Incredible Burt Wonderstone [Blu-Ray] Don Scardino

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone [Blu-Ray] Don Scardino
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Veteran TV director Don Scardino had the recipe for a potential comedy classic with The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. It features a cast of capable comedic actors playing new and old school Vegas magicians, and boasts a screenplay from Horrible Bosses scribes John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. But, in employing obvious casting, recruiting Steve Carell as the titular Wonderstone and Jim Carrey as his manic, self-mutilating Vegas opponent, the comic potential is milked dry by overly familiar showmanship. No matter how much you like the two, this film underscores the fact that Carell is disappointing as an arrogant character — having more of a knack for playing the socially awkward loser — and that Carrey's antics are well past their prime. The film starts off with Burt and Anton (Steve Buscemi) as young classmates exploring magic as a hobby, in an attempt to escape being bullied. Fast-forward a few decades and the duo are rich and famous as the headlining act at Bally's Casino. After doing their stage performance thousands of times over, the repetition has taken its toll and their act, much like their friendship, has stagnated. Their decline in popularity is exacerbated by the rise of street magician Steve Grey (Carrey), with his Brain Rapist cable show (an obvious jab at Criss Angel's Mind Freak), which only serves to accentuate Burt and Anton's inability to adapt to the times. Their boss, played by James Gandolfini (in one of his final roles), gives them the axe until they can rework their act. With Burt in financial straits and his ego devastated, he's forced to give up his life of luxury and ends up working in a retirement home to make ends meet. With the assistance of former stage assistant Jane (Olivia Wilde) and boyhood idol Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin), he tries to get his act together and his name back on a Vegas marquee. The premise of the film, with its formulaic storyline, won't come as a big surprise to viewers: a young, bullied boy manages to overcome his scars and rise to greatness, only to forget his roots, fall from grace and eventually realize how much of a jerk he's become. With Carell and Carrey at the helm, it's a concept that might have worked better in the previous decade, when The Office debuted and Carrey was still somewhat relevant. Buscemi, as one would expect, is terrific, while Wilde plays the thankless straight-woman role quite well (granted, she only appears in roughly a third of the film). While Burt Wonderstone is an overall disappointment, the one saving grace is the laughs peppered throughout, which will have more appeal to those familiar with Vegas and its specificities. Included with the Blu-Ray is an eight-minute vignette entitled "Making Movie Magic with David Copperfield," which only serves to show how utterly creepy the real-life magician actually is. There's also a feature entitled "Steve Gray UNCUT" that strings all of the street performances together into a Criss Angel-esque parody episode. The gems are the gag reel, deleted scenes and alternate takes, where the comedians are given more freedom to adlib and goof-off. It's a shame none of this benefitted the movie. (Warner)