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.
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.