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The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: BD Review

Aug 7th, 2013

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There's some serious starpower at hand here, but this is a movie that should be better than it is...

Warner / 100 Minutes / 2013 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: June 25, 2013

It’s always enjoyable to watch an established actor glam on to a project that tweaks and upends his/her public persona, but there’s an underbelly to movies that paint a star in unflattering light. Case in point: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, a movie that allows Steve Carell a chance to play a full-blown a-hole. The title character here may look the lead singer of Whitesnake after a glitter-factory accident, and he has a capacity for exceptional magicianship, but around every corner, he’s a dick.

Our film opens as Wonderstone and his magic partner Anton (Steve Buscemi) rise through the ranks of their trade, eventually ending up as headliners at a Vegas casino. The presence of an increasingly popular rival in the field – Steve Grey (Jim Carrey) – exacerbates an already-volatile relationship between Burt and Anton, and Burt quits, leaving his future prospects up in the air.

The main dramatic and comedic bents of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone follows Burt’s journey toward the bottom, playing friends’ kids’ birthday parties instead of mainstages, and sleeping on friends’ couches. Carell appears to want to embrace the douchebaggery of his character with eager aplomb, and he comes across appropriately – he’s a sensationally offensive waste of space.

The whiplash factor with an on-screen presence like this, though, is that a lack of likability doesn’t exactly leave viewers rooting for Burt. And once The Incredible Burt Wonderstone reaches the one-hour mark, it’s hard to stick around. Carell and company seem hell-bent on challenging audiences with an atypically weird movie like this one, but even though watching Carell mine the depths of a stunningly jerky character has moments of dark pleasure to it, this one wears out its welcome early. 

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