Comedies can be a rather tricky and divisive genre, everybody has their own unique taste when comes to them. What one person finds funny, another person is going to think that it isn’t funny. It’s the same for me as well. We all have different and specific tastes when it comes to humour. For me if any comedy manages to get laugh out of me, than I believed that it has successfully done it’s job. If it doesn’t, than that’s an entirely different story. However everything that I seen so far from the new comedy THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE looked like it would be an hilarious ride. So I was definitely looking forward to it to checking it out. So did the film manage to tickle my funny bone? Yes, it did very much.
The film tells the story of two successful magicians in Las Vegas named Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carrell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi), who have been best friends and partners for over 30 years. Sadly their friendship has begun to show signs of strain and both men can’t stand to be around each other. However things change for both Burt and Anton when a popular and very insane street magician by the name of Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) comes on the scene and threatens to steal away all the limelight from them because of his own unique but very dangerous magic tricks. In a way to complete with Gray, both Burt and Anton decide that they are going to do their own dangerous magic stunt well. Sadly when their stunt goes horribly wrong, they end friendship/partnership and go their own separate ways. Unfortunately in the process Burt is fired from his job and loses everything that he has worked for. But with the help of both his former assistant Jane (Olivia Wilde) and the man who inspired him to become a magician in the first place Rance Halloway (Alan Arkin), he decides to mend his friendship with Anton and find a way to get back on top again.
While I do admit that THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE isn’t a great comedy by any means but it was still a solid, enjoyable and very funny film that I had a good time with beginning to end. Plus since it is a film that deals a lot with both magic and illusions, it added a little sense of wonder to me while I was watching it (since I really enjoy magic but I mean seriously who doesn’t?). Another factor that I also thought made the film work the most for me was the cast, who all were all wonderful their roles. Steve Carrell brings his hilarious dry wit to the role of Burt Wonderstone. Plus it was interesting to see him tackle a character who starts off as being a total jerk to someone who we are actually rooting for in the end. Usually roles like this are a bit tricky to pull off but he does it with ease. While Steve Buscemi isn’t in the film as much as I thought he would (he’s only in the 1st and 3rd acts) but he makes the most of his role and does a good job as Anton Marvelton. I found Olivia Wilde to be both quite charming and likeable as Jane, it could have easily have been nothing role but she brings a lot elements to it that her make character much more interesting. Both Alan Arkin and James Gandolfini were pretty good in their roles respectfully (even Gandolfini has some has surprisingly funny moments as well which I didn’t expect) but the absolute stand out performance from the film was definitely Jim Carrey as Steve Gray (who is clearly based on real life street magicians David Blaine and Criss Angel). Carrey was fantastic and stole every scene he was in with his hilarious turn (it is definitely his best straight-up comedy performance in quite a few years). He even brings some of the film’s more darkly funnier moments as well.
The direction from Don Scardino (who has directed many episodes of the T.V. comedy series 30 ROCK) was nicely done and the script (which was co-written by the writers of HORRIBLE BOSSES) is full of hilarious scenes and dialogue (although I wouldn’t be surprised me some of the dialogue improvised by the actors on set). Also another thing I really liked how the film does have a bit of satire in it as well since it goes into rivalry between both old school magicians and new school magicians. While it did feel a bit one-sided when it comes to that debate (this is definitely very pro-old school magic film) but I still thought that it was an interesting element that added to the film.
While I did really enjoy the film, there are certain things that could have been worked on a little more. While the script was really funny but when it came to the actually plot itself, it was rather predictable and I could see where the story was going to go. There were certain elements about it that I wished the filmmakers had been explored a bit more. Also I did feel at times where the film came across a little safe when it came to some of its humour, it could have gone further with its darker comedic aspects but it pulls itself back before it goes there. Plus I wish that they developed more of the friendship/falling-out between Burt and Anton, which I felt was rather rushed (they start of being friends as kids to hating each other as adults pretty quickly in the first 10 minutes).
Overall despite it’s flaws, I still quite enjoyed THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE nonetheless. It won’t go down as classic in the genre but it’s a good solid comedy that delivered a lot of laughs. If you enjoy a good laugh, than I say that it is definitely worth a watch.
Review written by Bede Jermyn