Rated: PG-13 Reviewed by: Jim Release date: March 15, 2013 Released by: Warner Brothers
Another comedy that has Steve Carell and Jim Carrey in it (like Bruce Almighty) would seem welcome and ideal for many a multiplex patron; but even The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is more passe shrill pastiche, than observant wry satire.
Having Carell also with the talented Steve Buscemi (remember the funny-looking guy from Fargo?) as the eponymous very tan and vain magician with longtime pal and sidekick Anton, respectively seems like a good idea under the auspices of noted small-screen helmer Don Scardino. As uproarious and silly as the proceedings might seem to some, it's really not that infectious as it probably was for the cast and crew.
Burt and Anton now have more disdain for one another kept under wraps retaining their consistent magic act that has done well on the Sunset Strip for a while. But, the screenwriters of the better Horrible Bosses have Carrey's long-coiffed, clownish guerrilla act Steve as stiff competition and the impetus for them to revise their act or return to what earned them flashy glory.
There's an affection of the 'Odd Couple' variety to career-minded folk, perhaps along the lines of what Will Ferrell did in Anchorman; yet it might be an illusion to think how even with some backstage insight and fantastical sleight-of-hand that the nutty amusement will have a vividly fun immediacy about it.
Still, having Carell slipping into this absurd can have its pleasures and with the less driven, but charity-minded Buscemi opposite him even as the storyline strains to some unexpected occurrences. On the other hand, Carrey's pliant portrait reveals something like Criss Angel which really doesn't really prove a vital wicked nemesis, though scene-stealing in a perverse illusionist's touch and low-mindedness. Olivia Wilde actually idisplays some panache as Burt's new assistant Jane, and James Gandolfini and Alan Arkin aren't given that much to do as Doug, a crotchety hotel boss and the veteran Rance, inspiration for Burt's career, respectively.
Maybe the most memorable gags aren't in their contrived nature as the prestidigitation remains grounded enough for the most part in their simplicity when they work best. Burt Wonderstone is unfussy broad comedy that reaches some maudlin stretches and should have been more incredible given the talent in front of and behind the camera but isn't because it's limited to the stunt-based sentiment that is served better in the more sketch-friendly format of the director's popular 30 Rock.
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