Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Irregular illusions

“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” stars Steve Carell as the titular illusionist, a character partnered with his loyal childhood friend and fellow prestidigitator Anton Lovecraft (Steve Buscemi). Their decade-old magic act suddenly becomes stale with the emergence of street magician Steve Haines (Jim Carrey), whose feats of endurance—and masochistic tendencies—consistently shock and awe jaded spectators.

Carrey’s scene-stealing moments are consistent in their irreverence and hilarity. Carell elicits laughs, sure, but they’re not as hearty; his scenes tend to drag sometimes. The characters are okay, if predictable; forced to update their tricks, Burt and Anton attempt a new stunt, but they fail spectacularly and separate. The once-proud magician unexpectedly connects with a childhood hero, Rance Henson (Alan Arkin), when the former lands a gig in a retirement home.

It goes through the motions with its romance angle—Olivia Wilde as the ambitious assistant-turned-love interest is gorgeous and a welcome presence, sure, but the pairing is contrived. Jay Mohr is wasted on a baffling character, as well. Again, while it’s a nice, even timely parody, “Burt Wonderstone” doesn’t fully mine the “magic world” for lasting guffaws. The David Blaine-ish Steve is wonderfully creepy, though, and is easily the funniest thing about the movie. 

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