Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 20, 2013

‘Wonderstone’ a dreadful waste of wonderful cast

Ryan Maddux
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — With Andy on spring break I’ll be taking a solo look at The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (PG-13).

Steve Carrell stars as a Vegas strip magician whose career bottoms out when an up-start street magician (Jim Carrey) begins to steal his thunder. Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, James Gandolfini and Alan Arkin costar in the movie. Veteran television director, Don Scardino directs.

For a movie with an Oscar winner (Arkin), a multiple Emmy winner (Gandolfini) and two Golden Globe winners (Carrell and Buscemi) one could have hoped for a quality comedic film (and that’s not even figuring in the Jim Carey factor). In the end, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone misfires on all cylinders. This is one dreadful movie.

There are multiple shortcomings with the movie. First, Carrell’s Wonderstone is so unlikable at the beginning of the movie that it is almost impossible to then root for him when his character is humbled. He’s basically playing Michael Scott (from TV’s The Office) but without any of charm that did make that character (at least somewhat) likable. Not having any emotional investment in the lead character significantly hinders the development of the film’s narrative.          

Second, initially it did look like Jim Carrey’s involvement in the movie might be the film’s saving grace. Carrey plays a one-note character, a cross between real-life illusionists David Blaine and Criss Angel. The sole purpose of his character is meant to be absurd. As I said, that works initially, but then the character becomes so ridiculous that it distracts from the rest of the film. In fact several of the scenes depicting Carrey’s intense magic ventures off into nothing but a disgusting set of sequences.  

Third, one would expect a film dealing with illusionists to have that sense of wonder in its appreciation of the power and seductiveness of magic.

While the film states this fact several times it never demonstrates it. Even the film’s climax is too cold and calculated, then completely ruined when it is explained (unnecessarily) at the end of the film.  

If it seems that I have nothing nice to say about this movie that is 100 percent true. This movie has no redeeming cinematic value. It’s not funny, it’s not entertaining, and it’s not worth seeing on the big screen, on DVD, on your TV or on your wireless device.

Final Grade: D-