Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone review

There aren't many PG-13 comedies that come out any more. Ever since The Hangover, the PG-13 comedy has been a dying breed, one niche genre that studios just didn't make anymore. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone takes a shot at making a PG-13 comedy and its not going to change a thing in the industry. It's an average film with mild entertainment value and very few laughs, which is sad despite the cast that director Don Scardino has assembled for the film. It's not funny enough to be a good comedy and not entertaining enough to get a pass as a decent movie. Once again, the studios try to incorporate a story with heart into a movie that should just be madcap ridiculousness. Sometimes it works, but this time it doesn't. I honestly judge comedies on how much they make me laugh, and Wonderstone didn't. I laughed more in Argo than I did in Burt Wonderstone.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone tells the tale of the title character, who as a child is bullied and shunned by his peers. For his birthday, he gets a Rance Holloway magic kit and his life changes. He becomes a magician with his partner Anton and the duo become the kings of the Las Vegas strip. Thirty years later, Burt (Steve Carell) and Anton (Steve Buscemi) are bickering constantly and are sick and tired of their show. Meanwhile, Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) is becoming a Johnny Knoxville-esque force in the magic world and Burt's showrunner Doug (James Gandolfini) is looking for a new act. Burt ends up fired and must find himself and become a better person through Jane (Olivia Wilde) and discover the magic inside him with Rance Holloway himself (Alan Arkin).

Despite the cliched plot, there are some good things about this film. First off, there are actually three decent performances in this film. Jim Carrey has some good moments as Gray but his character is a complete idiot who verges on the total stupidity that this film maybe needed but really didn't. Alan Arkin delivers his lines well and is one of the few characters you don't want to kill. The standout for me was Buscemi who was funny and not a completely annoying and despicable character. On the other hand, Olivia Wilde is once again a contrived plot device and Steve Carell is probably one of the worst things about the film. But I'll get to that later.

There are some mildly funny moments as well. I can say that in the first scene where Steve Grey is on the scene, I was laughing out loud and I also though that James Gandolfini and Steve Carell had some funny moments. But the thing is, I can quote about one or two funny lines. I can count at least six from The Avengers. Not good considering that The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a comedy. Other than a few funny gags, the film verges too much on gross out humor. Carrey's character has more cringe-worthy moments than a Family Guy episode and that is not a compliment.

The worst thing about this film is that it's boring. There's nothing substantial or even particularly interesting at all in the film. It wants to be like the eccentric Ben Stiller films like Zoolander and Dodgeball mixed with the comedy of Will Ferrell in films like Anchorman and Blades of Glory but in the end it's not. It's just not a funny movie. And it's not an entertaining one either. Dodgeball isn't always downright hilarious but I'll be darned if it's not one of the most entertaining movies around. Add to that, the story isn't fresh enough or interesting enough to make the film worthwhile. It's just nothing new and you can predict it right off the bat.

In addition, Steve Carell isn't funny in this movie. I really do like him as an actor and I do find him quite funny. His work in Anchorman is one of the best comedic performances ever. But in this film, he's just not good. He has a few funny gags but he's practically in every scene of the movie. And that's not okay. I'd much rather see an Anton Marvelton movie where Carell is the annoying sidekick. He's just not a lead actor. Him and Carrey make up a pair of really annoying characters.

In the end, comedy is in the eye of the beholder so you might like The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. But I didn't even think it was that entertaining which is not a good sign. The performances might make you like it and if you're a Carrey fan, you'll really want to check this out. But don't go hoping for a really great comedy because you're just setting yourself up for disappointment.

THE FINAL GRADE: C-                                            (4.9/10)

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