Movies: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Using the word “incredible” in the title of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone may be a stretch but, for audiences in Las Vegas the film is probably a bit better than to those who don’t.

Magicians Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi, left), Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Jane (Olivia Wilde) are making it big in Las Vegas.
Photo: Ben Glass

It follows the lives and careers of two nerds who meet as children. Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) bond over a magic set produced for kids by Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin) and they decide to team up. Flash forward a few decades and Burt and Anton have a showroom at Bally’s in Las Vegas, down the street from David Copperfield (who has an amusing cameo), hired with a long-term contract by casino entrepreneur Doug Munny (James Gandolfini).

They are the envy of other magicians, like Rick the Implausible (Jay Mohr) and are threatened by the Criss Angel-like stunt magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey). Their beautiful assistant Jane (Olivia Wilde) helps out. Trying to one-up Gray, the attempt a disastrous stunt and lose their gig. But Munny is building a new casino to be called, in a style that’s become popular in Las Vegas, by his name — Doug’s. So, after a few ups and downs, Burt and Anton compete for their own showroom.

There is a kind of Siegfried and Roy aura about the two and one cannot help comparing Steve Gray to Angel and/or David Blaine. With a bit of Trump and a bit of Wynn, Gandolfini’s character is familiar to Las Vegans. In fact, the entire film is.

Carell even did a surprise spot on that bastion of Las Vegas reality shows, Pawn Stars this week to promote the movie.

Director Don Scardino (TV’s 30 Rock) does a fine job with the material given him by writers Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley. In fact, he works well with his first-rate cast to make mediocre material into a movie that, if not “incredible” is, at least, pleasant. It just should have been so much better.


One response on “Movies: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

  1. It’s an amusing movie, if not quite completely fleshed-out production. It comes close to being a really good movie, in a couple of places, but the pacing and delivering is uneven.


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