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How Many Bad Movies Did They Cram into The Incredible Burt Wonderstone?

Multiple layers of awfulness in this lame parody of Siegfried and Roy, Criss Angel, and David Blaine.

by
John Boot

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March 15, 2013 - 11:00 am
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It wouldn’t be fair to call The Incredible Burt Wonderstone a disastrous movie. It would be fair, however, to call it three or four disastrous movies crammed into one: It’s abysmally awful as a buddy flick, as a broad satire of Las Vegas, as a romance, and as a soulful character-based comedy. In a moviegoing year that is already piled deep with the remnants of terrible movies, this one skitters atop the garbage heap like a roach.

Steve Carell plays the title character, who in the opening scenes is a kid in the 1980s who turns to magic because he’s lonely. He’s the kind of boy bullies chase around the block, and after a rough day of being forced to eat tree bark, when he arrives home at an empty house we find out that it’s his birthday. But all he has to show for it is a note from his mom, a single present and instructions to enjoy making his birthday cake (if he wants to bake it himself). The present, though, is a box of magic tricks, together with a video by legendary magician Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin) that give him an opportunity to master something and a lifelong friendship with a classmate, the equally dorky Anton.

Cut to the present day, when Burt and Anton, under their goofy stage names, play packed houses every night in a Vegas hotel-casino despite putting on a groaner of an act complete with red velvet tuxedos, corny patter, and the theme song “Abracadabra.” The act seems to be a spoof of David Copperfield, Barry Manilow and Siegfried and Roy, staged with the maximum cheesiness of Gob’s magic act on Arrested Development. Carell and Steve Buscemi (as Anton) sport silly wigs and prance around being bitchy with stereotypically gay mannerisms. (Yet minutes later, Burt is revealed to be a ladykiller, the homoerotic scene between the two men forgotten.)

The arrival of an amazingly annoying Jim Carrey on the scene as Steve Gray, an underground hipster street musician modeled after Criss Angel and David Blaine, sets the woefully tame plot in motion: Will Burt and Anton adapt to contemporary tastes or will they fade into irrelevance?

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All Comments   (6)
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In recent decades painful-to-watch boorish behavior has become a mainstay of "humor." It sems to have started, or at least solidified, with "Seinfeld," and only gotten worse since then.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This film will soon be showing on airliners and cruise ships everywhere. That's why I like to drive.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, Mr. Boot, your review seems to be accurate as this turkey is flopping badly.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Imagination is failing in the entertainment business (as usual). The default setting for comedies centered on male characters is Nasty Schmoe Gets His Comeuppance. Will Ferrell owns a few hundred shares of that stock. It was bracing and brilliant in Groundhog Day with Bill Murray at his best, and has been getting steadily duller and more predictable since.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Speaking of bad, did you check out that new Oz flick? I could feel the burn on the actor's faces having to mouth that dreck of a script. An old Steve Reeves Hercules movie is more lively.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, any movie that makes fun of hipster street magicians can't be all bad. Maybe I'll check it out on Netflix when there's nothing else to watch.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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