This probably won’t surprise you, but it turns out that the new movie The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is neither incredible nor wonderful. Maybe stoned. It’s a magician movie starring a bunch of serious comedic heavy-hitters like Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, and Steve Buscemi, but they all fall flat because of a mediocre concept, a shitty script, and absolutely zero likeability. Olivia Wilde is cast as the supposedly awkward magician’s assistant who dreams of becoming a real magician herself one day, and let me tell you — as an awkward girl myself, there is nothing less satisfying than watching a hot girl do her own imitation of ‘quirky misfit’, or whatever that was supposed to be. Steve Carell makes brief, fatherly passes at her, as the script dictates, but doesn’t have much focus to put into it because he’s so busy disappointing me with his performance.
The thing is, I really like Steve Carell, so even after I saw how terrible the trailers looked, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I will and have defended him to the ends of the earth, but holy shit was this movie a terrible use of his time and effort. He did a weird voice and some odd dancing and had some silly hair, but there was just nothing to it. The magic aspect was fun, I guess, but it wasn’t impressive because it’s a movie and they have access to million dollar effects. I’m never gonna be dazzled by the tricks you’re showing me onscreen, because it’s not real life, guys! Jim Carrey as Steve Gray digging around in a wound on his cheek to pull out someone’s bloody playing card for a trick isn’t impressive, it’s just gross and unnecessary, like most of the things he did in this movie. Including losing weight for it! What the eff is that about? Did anyone even ask him to do that?? The wigs and costumes were fun, to an extent, but they were kind of asked to hold up the pretense of the movie, and even a flowing 80s Fabio wig doesn’t have those skillz.
The only person in the movie who was actually good was Alan Arkin, as Rance Holloway, the magician who inspired Burt (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) to take up magic in the first place. He’s a more believable character that anyone else, with actual stakes and emotional investment, but I have a feeling that was his own doing and not written into the script. He was the only character I cared about at all, which is a lot of pressure to put on one person in a full-length movie. I hardly even feel like giving a basic overview of plot because it just doesn’t matter. The movie doesn’t go far enough into camp to be a spoof, and it wasn’t grounded enough to be a hilarious comedy, so it lives right in the mushy middle, somewhere I don’t want to be. The entire movie theater around me was laughing, though, so maybe I’m just a grump. Or maybe they were all Wonderstoned. Who knows.