Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — There are many tales woven for an infinite number of performance venues with nothing worth remembering in its original form, but carried nonetheless by just the right cast. Countless are the examples, featuring a couple of actors in today’s discussion, where their portrayal is so transforming that what should have been a bland experience in the beginning becomes a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
It’s not that I would even necessarily avoid a flick like this, but said actors have proven they can bring entertainment value to just about any project already and made it an easy choice at least for a few laughs. As it turned out, the choice delivered chuckles and a moment’s distraction in just as quirky a style as I would have expected given the talents. “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” may have lacked a few elements from even being the best of its category for the year, but there’s probably something to like for just about any audience member as long as they haven’t outgrown magic.
The story kicks off telling the tale of two very awkward young boys, Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carrel) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi), both who can’t seem to make friends or avoid being bullied at every turn. They form their own friendship through their personality quirks and really hit it off when Burt gets a magic kit created by the famous magician Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin), vowing to wow the world with their own unique tricks.
Eventually the two guys grow up and end up in about the only place one could have a chance at being fabulously wealthy in the profession, Las Vegas, with their own regular show thanks to a hotel manager named Doug Munny (James Gandolfini). However, their friendship eventually starts to fade as Burt’s ego grows with fame and it takes a downward plunge and the emergence of a psychopathic street magician named Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) to see how special their partnership really is. It’s almost as if someone had a plot for a magic related sitcom that Jerry Seinfeld wouldn’t do, but is still often hilarious and died in the pilot episode.
The three strongest performances come from Arkin, Carrey and Carrel as well as their relationships between each other and would be quite a trio to include if they could be combined for future projects (though Carrel and Carrey were already awesome before in Bruce Almighty). It was one of Carrey’s best whacky roles in quite some time and a shame more could not have been done to expand it.
As a result it’s a relatively tame affair for most ages, with the most severe adult content more on a suggestive than visual level. It’s not necessarily a must own, but I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to share it with friends later. Thus I bestow upon “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” three out of five illusions.
DVD rental courtesy of Family Video of Pauls Valley.