FILM FANS: 'Burt Wonderstone' lacks movie magic


Special Photo: Warner Bros. Steve Carell plays Burt Wonderstone and Olivia Wilde plays Jane in "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the movie of the week: "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone." Want to be a film fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

2 stars

Steve Carell and Jim Carrey star in "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone", the latest movie penned by John Francis Daley, who plays "Sweets" on "Bones." Unlike his last screenplay, the wonderfully twisted "Horrible Bosses," this one misses the mark.

Carell plays the title character, who was tortured as a boy, and turns to magic as a form of escape. Steve Buscemi, a welcome face in most any movie, plays his assistant. They become a hugely successful act until rival street "magician" Steve Gray comes along, ruining their sales. Played as a goofball version of a mixture of David Blaine and Criss Angel, Carrey does what he does best, delivering his trademark slapstick humor, while trying to play it straight as a magician who isn't really doing magic so much as he's doing shock and awe visual stunts.

While most of the movie delivers some good laughs and gets off to a promising start, you can almost sense where the script ran out of steam and cliche starts to take over. The performances are great and each of them works with what they were given. It's just unfortunate that it ventures into such predictable and familiar territory.

-- Ron Adams, Statham

2 stars

"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" tells the story of two lifelong friends, Burt and Anton, and their rise and fall from fame as magicians on the Las Vegas strip. Steve Carell, as Burt, balances over-the-top antics and humor with gentle sincerity, though we get much more of the former and less of the latter in this film. Steve Buscemi portrays Burt's sidekick, Anton, a role that doesn't offer many opportunities for Buscemi to show off his acting chops.

Jim Carrey is Steve Gray, a caricature of today's edgier magician, who uses more violence and humiliation in his act than sleight of hand and wistful humor. Carrey is as frenetic as he was in his early films and TV work, even if he seems to be phoning in his performance toward the end of the movie. James Gandolfini and Alan Arkin have smaller roles, but bring levity to several scenes. Olivia Wilde plays the eventual love interest of the lead character, and one can see their relationship coming from a mile away. One of the weaknesses of "Wonderstone" is a lack of surprise.

This movie wants to be funny, to have heart and to say something about how we should treat one another in life. And it succeeds on some levels in each of these areas -- but not enough to make it a must-see.

-- Paul Tate, Sugar Hill

2 stars

"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" is directed by Don Scardino starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, James Gandolfini, Jim Carrey and Jay Mohr. This movie is like the comedy version of "The Prestige."

Buscemi's and Carell's characters are friends that discovered magic together when they were kids. When they become adults, they run this incredibly cheesy magic show where Wilde's character is their assistant. Carry is this Criss Angel type of character who does bodily harm kind of things to himself and becomes more popular.

The majority of the characters in this comedy are not really likeable or funny, especially Carell's and Buscemi's characters. All of the characters in this movie are jerks, but only Carrey and Arkin's character were the most likeable jerks and the funniest out of everyone in this movie. Overall, this movie is horribly directed and a comedy that is trying too hard. I would suggest saving your money and waiting until this movie is out on DVD.

-- Brittany Wygladalski, Sugar Hill