experienced actors Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Alan Arkin to such a
miserable screenplay? Barely raising a laugh, The Incredible Burt
Wonderstone is frightfully
dull and predictable, the work of four screenwriters and Don Scardino,
experienced TV director. The best they've been able to provide a richly
talented cast is a script that has no urgency, no surprises or any
you remember this story? There are
two strands: a shallow, self-absorbed man, who treats people poorly,
privileges in life. He comes to realise that he needs to rejuvenate
how much friendship means to him, and that he can share talent X again.
you know this story
and have already started reaching for the bucket then you don't need to
Wonderstone. It's as though the filmmakers are
sharing a private joke in the cynical and contemptuous way the movie
to being about celebrities reinventing themselves. "New equals
value," we're told. This is from a film that gleefully wastes its stars
a story so tired its growing mould.
is Wonderstone, a magician who
has been with his stage partner Anton Marvelton (Buscemi) since they
children. Wonderstone is rude, arrogant and a womaniser. He doesn't
staff, including Anton and the stage assistant Jane (Olivia Wilde). He
doesn't want to change the same routine he's been performing for years.
show's numbers are down and the owner of the Vegas casino (James
isn't happy and wants new material. After trying a new stunt, Anton is
and leaves the partnership.
radical new magician Steve
Gray (Jim Carrey), who specialises in tricks involving mutilation,
steal Burt's spotlight. Having blown all his money, Burt is left to
fend on his
own. After trying to gather help from Jane, he resorts to performing
in a retirement home, where he meets his childhood idol, former
Holloway (Arkin). He urges Burt to regain some of his passion.
Carell is an often brilliant
comedian when he strikes the right notes between an Ordinary Joe,
deadpan and just
plain daft. With his hangdog expressions, he's akin to playing
in crisis. He does this very well. But "pompous" and
"womaniser" are not words that I would ever associate with him. He's
completely miscast, and overplays his hand at making Burt mean-spirited
arrogant. There's no consistency in his acting style either. The forced
disappears once we reach the second of three long acts.
really only a skeleton of an old,
worn-out story for everyone else to work through here. Characterisation
achingly thin, with the supporting roles never developed beyond their
archetypes: remember the friend, the romance interest, the boss and the
Each of these elements feels like it's been punched out by a production
a marketing committee, especially the romance, where Carell is courting
played by an actress twenty years younger than him.
Scardino has worked on
television shows like The West Wing, Ed and 30 Rock but his
is lazy. There are poorly written and directed scenes, where characters
literally sit down to explain the trajectory of each new act. It's been
without a feeling for tension, pacing and most importantly, big laughs.
gags are dumb and obvious, consisting of people falling over, being
shot with a
nail gun and various other forms of self-harm. If the movie does have
to say it is about how long people can survive off the same old shtick.
a question of self-interest, tested to embarrassing and unfunny new