Director: Don Scardino
Cast: Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde, Steve Buscemi, James Gandolfini, Alan Arkin
Running Time: 100 mins
Release Date: March 15
People tend to moan and groan about the steady flow of sequels Hollywood fabricates year in, year out. What they don’t seem to take umbrage with as much is the recycling of content, refurnished as original material. With comedy, we’ve been sleeping in the same hotel for the past fifteen years, only the decor has been changed occasionally.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is another passage in the long list of man-child out of time movies that started with Zoolander, peaked with Anchorman and has been the modus operandi for countless others since. Steve Carell plays the titular magician, a puffed-up, pompous Siegfried & Roy knock-off who has been dominating the Vegas circuit for decades with partner Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) until “Brain Rapist” Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) comes along and steals his audience with David Blaine-esque endurance stunts. Relegated to a retirement home, Marvelton teams with his childhood inspiration to stage an unlikely comeback.
There are a lot of funny people in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. Sadly, not a lot of them are funny are in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. Guiltiest of all is its star, Carell, who, since his major breakout in The 40-Year Old Virgin has struggled to be a reliable leading man, perhaps suited better to supporting roles. His Wonderstone is full of daft Burgundy bravado but has none of the substance or subtlety. Strangely, Carrey has never thrown his rubber faced features in with the Apatow gang and it’s clearly not been worth the wait—that said, his self-harming, don’t-try-this-or-I’ll-sue Good Charlotte lookalike is game for some chuckles.
The undeniably strong supporting cast are invariably mishandled: Buscemi makes a welcome return to comedy but lacks chemistry with Carell; Alan Arkin’s shameless self-parody continues; James Gandolfini again shows his impressive dexterity for humour and Olivia Wilde plays a rather age-inappropriate love interest for Carell. When you leave a movie and your main thought on the performances is that Jay Mohr might make a decent character actor, there’s something terribly wrong.
Director Don Scardino, a veteran of the sensory overload of jokes that is 30 Rock, has a tough time with weaker material, the script here the dirty work of Horrible Bosses scribes, Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley. Big trick scenes fall flat, the pacing is off and musical cues are just plain bizarre. By all means, avoid.