The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, available now on Blu-ray and DVD, didn’t make much of a splash while in theaters despite sporting an impressive cast that included everyone from Steve Carell to the late, great James Gandolfini.
The film follows the magic duo Burt (Carell) and Anton (Steve Buscemi) from their inspired childhood practicing magic in their homes to their adulthood performing it for people with their show, “Magical Friendship.”
Despite their dreams being realized, Burt finds himself with a bloated ego and a boredom with magic. His position as the number one magician in Vegas (so he thinks) is threatened when a “street magician” named Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) begins picking up steam with magic fans. Except he doesn’t perform magic. He performs stunts that real magicians find disgusting and appalling.
It’s a nice set up, and the film has all the right ingredients to work, and it does to an extent. However, Wonderstone has a screenplay that is sometimes a little too conventional for its own good. The movie takes a lot of predictable turns and is underwritten in many aspects, mainly in the case of Olivia Wilde’s role.
However, the film’s saving grace is its charm, and this charm mostly comes from the stellar cast who get laughs nearly all around. Carell and Buscemi are great choices as the leads, Alan Arkin shines in his hysterical and limited role and Gandolfini is marvelous as a Vegas hotel millionaire. Also bit actors like Jay Mohr, who has no more than a handful of scenes, provide huge laughs with the material.
Even Carrey, who has not exactly been playing nice with his conservative fans, works well in his limited role. He gives just enough crazy for the idea of Steve Gray to be funny.
Wonderstone is a simple film that takes predictable turns and is a little unbelievable in some of its leaps of logic, but it works because of its positive message and the appeal of its actors. The script clearly has heart and love poured into it, which gives the film enough of a spark to succeed, and these actors really do know how to turn some of these flatly written scenes into laugh riots.
The Blu-ray edition contains a lot of good material for fans of the film. There’s a “best of” collection of the work of Steve Gray, an interesting look at magic with David Copperfield, and some funny deleted scenes and outtakes. It’s a disc worth owning for fans of these guys.
If you feel any inclination to watch Wonderstone, whether it be for the actors or conceit, then it is certainly not a waste of time. It has enough humor to make up for some of its more obvious flaws. Besides a movie that provides someone with a handful of laughs these days can’t be too bad, can it?