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Film review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

by Benazir Anwar

Age certification: 15

Written by: Jonathon M. Goldstein, John Francis Daley

Directed by: Don Scardino

Cast: Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, Jim Carrey, Alan Akin

Genre: Comedy

Rating: ***

Bonding over a handkerchief magic trip in the school canteen, Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) strike up a friendship which over years leads to them becoming superstar magicians, performing regularly in their hugely popular and successful show, in a Las Vegas hotel. But with their once solid friendship beginning to slowly deteriorate with the boredom of the same performance night after night and the appearance of eccentric street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) throwing them off course, the duo’s show and relationship falls apart.

The two main attractions of this film are the cast and the magic tricks, and regrettably, only one of them makes this film a success. The talented comedians, Carell and Carrey are on point with their performances. From an egotistical and fame crazy ‘old school’ magician, to an outrageous and shocking ‘brain rapist’, they do well to provide a laugh. The performances between Burt and Anton during their show, with their ridiculous costumes and outlandish dance routines is one of the highlights of the film, however the same cannot be said for their off stage performances. The two argue and rant at each other, in what seems like an altogether unnecessary and all too familiar falling out between friends.

With Carrey’s character becoming the ‘new Burt and Anton’, the duo look for a way to salvage their own act, all while rediscovering themselves. Looking for inspiration in an retirement home, Burt stumbles across his childhood inspiration, the famous magician Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin), who brings him back in touch with reality and reminds him of what made him fall in love with magic. Regrettably, there is nothing entertaining or new about their magic tricks, which is a shame since it should be a huge part of the film’s plot.

In short, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone could quite easily be the same as watching a mediocre magic show, combined with your regular dramatic soap on TV – it’s nothing special and we’ve all seen it before. Thankfully, Carell and Buscemi do offer a great performance with their camp behaviour and entertaining double act, alongside Carrey’s wacky show. Similarly, Alan Arkin is as brilliant as ever with his usual manner of grumpiness, peppered with an almost delightful performance as a retired magician.

** Click here to check Odeon Leicester film showing times **

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