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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
This past weekend, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was released and largely underperformed at the box office. Apparently, this is one of the lowest openings for stars Steve Carrell and Jim Carrey. I was able to catch a showing of it and, not surprisingly, the theater was not even half-full. I do not know why this was the case (I will let Zack speculate on that), but I guess the question remains on whether or not this movie deserved to underperform.
If I had to sum up my reaction to Burt Wonderstone, it would be that it is a fun and silly movie if a bit formulaic and predictable. I enjoyed watching it, and I do not regret it. However, after I left the theater, I largely forgot about it. It is easily digestible entertainment and nothing more.
In the film, Carrell and Steve Buscemi play professional magicians with a successful Las Vegas act. They are pretty much in the vein of David Copperfield (with a little bit of Siegfried & Roy thrown in). Their act (and subsequently their friendship) begins to crumble when a new “magician” (perfectly played by Carrey) in the style of Criss Angel begins to grow in popularity. You can pretty much infer what happens from that point on: Carrell hits rock-bottom from his egotistical heights, rediscovers his love of magic, reunites with Buscemi, and gets his magic act back. Oh, and there is a love interest who assists Carrell on his journey played by an earnest Olivia Wilde. Honestly, this is a movie that pretty much writes itself.
A problem with the film, beyond the formulaic nature of it, is that the tone is a little inconsistent. There are moments of just pure insanity and surrealism when it comes to our lead’s attitudes towards each other and magic in general. Then, almost turning on a dime, we get something akin to a heartwarming melodrama. It jumps around a bit too much for my liking, and it does not do the film any favors for doing so.
Though the film is not revolutionary by any means, what saves it are some of the performances. The aforementioned Jim Carrey is really terrific in this. His character, Steve Gray, is just so zany and insane. Carrey is able to go over-the-top with this character, but does so in a way that does not make it too ridiculous for its own good. One problem I have noticed with Carrey’s previous goofy roles is that it goes so far that it is hard for a viewer to continue to buy into the goofiness. Not so with this character. He is able to ground it enough that it never veers into stupidity (I suppose it also helps that they use Carrey’s character just enough to where he is not over-exposed).
So, would I recommend The Incredible Burt Wonderstone to people? I guess I would. There is really nothing inherently bad about it. It is a perfectly serviceable comedy that is sure to be enjoyed by audiences looking for a quick laugh. Do not expect a lasting impression, however. So, with that, I would say to wait for the DVD. There is really no reason to rush to see it.