The attribute that is most bizarrely incredible about Burt Wonderstone is how literally every other joke is funny. It’s mindboggling the amount of time, dedication, and work the creators of this mediocre comedic romp most have wasted to ensure that ever successful joke is sandwiched in-between poorly articulated clunkers.
For those who don’t know, the film chronicles the staggeringly formulaic adventures of Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and his assistant Anton Marvelton ( Steve Busemi). Let me say, right off the bat, that like most individuals of my ilk I had a flirtation with Magic. I think it’s something that nerds are just genetically predisposition to enjoy. Due to this, I wanted to love the movie. I wanted it to be Anchorman. I really did.
Aside from the fact that only half of the jokes work, the most frustrating aspect of the film is Olivia Wilde. Not her performance, she’s great in her role as Jane, the assistant. The fact that her character is utterly vestigial. She serves no purpose at all. She is literally there as a plot point to show that Burt, in his utterly predictable, return to non-assholedom has someone to fall in love with and show the audience that he’s actually not that bad a guy.
Sure, the movie has some funny moments but its lack of interest in having a female character that is… oh, I don’t know. A CHARACTER is so repulsive and lame. That’s like the golden rule of screenwriting, in my book. Oh, sure, people will tell you not to use voice over to get exposition across to the audience. But, for me, it’s female characters that are just boobs and a plot point. The film not only falls straight into this horrible sexist stereotypical writing, it strips down to its bathing suit and dives in face first.
Alan Arkin is severely underused as an aging Obi Wan style magician. Jim Carrey is…Jim Carrey and if you like that, then you’ll like him as Steve Gray aka Not Chris Angel. And Jay Mohr actually gave a really great little bit performance, which I’m as shocked as you about. Jay Mohr? I hate that dude. I’ve wanted to hit him in the face in everything he’s ever done. Well, except for Action. That show was amazing, and beautifully written. If you haven’t seen it, invest. Now.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is more like The Incredible Burt I Wish-I’d-Stayed-At-Home. The pacing is terrible and the few comedic moments that actually sing are buried underneath a deluge of stale characterization and methodically pedantic structure. Maybe someday Steve Carell will make an awesome movie, but today is not that day.