The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, a film that takes a jab at Las Vegas magicians like David Copperfield and Seigfried & Roy, feels like the last lame guy showing up at a party with a rubber nose, squirting flower and a bottle of cheap schnapps. If this was a subject ripe for satire, that subject should've been approached 20 years ago.
There's just nothing funny in seeing Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi dressed like Siegfried & Roy dancing around to Steve Miller's "Abracadabra." And it's downright distasteful to have a magician in a bar with gauze bandages all over his neck because one of his big cats bit him. Get it? Roy Horn had his neck injured by a tiger during a show, so the dude in the bar is a sly reference to that stage tragedy? Bruuu-hahahaha!
I'm not saying there isn't a funny joke about Roy getting mauled by a tiger out there somewhere. Deep in the far recesses of Hollywood, there must be some writer who can wring a few laughs from Roy's partial paralysis and life-threatening loss of blood. I'm just saying the folks involved in this movie have failed with the concept.
Really, this movie is douche-bag central. It's a bunch of tired jokes by tired performers on a tired subject. Oh, but David Copperfield does make a cameo. There you go, magic fans!
Carell, who I'm predicting will have to return to TV sooner rather than later, plays Burt Wonderstone, a Vegas magician headlining at Bally's. His partner, Anton Marvelton (Buscemi), joins him every night for the same tired magician act, running through a sequence of played out illusions and sexist jokes.
Doug Munny (Ha ha ... Munny sounds like money! Get it?), a casino mogul played by James Gandolfini, wants his headliners to modernize their act. He cites psychotic Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) as the modern direction of magic. The Gray character, a hybrid of Criss Angel and David Blaine, is hosting a TV show in which he does ungodly things to his face and body. His show is called Brain Rape and Angel had a show called Mindfreak. Get it? Hahahaha!
In one of the film's few funny gags, Burt and Anton attempt a Blaine-style isolation chamber in the Vegas sun that goes terribly awry. They break up, and Wonderstone's attempts at a solo career land him at a retirement home doing tricks for aging Vegas show biz people. One of them is Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin), the magician who had a namesake magic set that Burt played with as a child. Their relationship in the film is neither touching nor inspirational, and it certainly isn't funny.
Very little in the movie is actually funny, although I did laugh a couple of times at the Carrey hijinks. Carrey has always been an incredible physical performer, and he does this thing with one of his eyes after his character drills a hole in his own skull. It's pretty damned remarkable.
And what of Carrey? He's taking to supporting roles this year in this travesty and the upcoming Kick-Ass 2. I guess he's having a hard time landing headliner gigs after the bomb that was Mr. Pooper's Defecating Fat Aquatic Birds That Look Like They Are Wearing Tuxedos, or whatever the hell that movie was called.
The best thing in this movie, far and away, is the suit jacket that Olivia Wilde is wearing late in the film. It's this real cool, jazzy little number that looks like three different tweed jackets from a thrift store stitched together. I'm not being sarcastic; it really is cool-looking, and I want one. I want one made for a man, and not a Hollywood actress. Seriously, somebody get on it and start making those jackets for men. I'll pay at least $50 for that thing.
The movie is directed by Don Scardino—a veteran of many TV shows—and it's his feature debut. He gets credit for pulling the worst big screen performance out of Steve Carell to date, and those of you who have seen his mopey faced work in Dan In Real Life know that getting something worse than that out of Carell is a major feat.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone should've never been made, at least not in this century. It would've sucked balls before 2000, too, but at least it would've been slightly relevant. As it stands, it's one of those movies you watch unfold in disbelief, wondering how anybody thought it was a good idea. And if they did think it was a good idea, what form of hallucinogen were they on at the time?