‘The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’ movie review

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Parodying the gaudy ‘80s-style magicianary from acts like Siegfried & Roy, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is the tale of a duo, friends from childhood, who make the big time – although their friendship isn’t quite so successful.

We follow Burt, played by 40 Year Old Virgin star Steve Carell, from a youngster as he discovers magic through conjurer Rance Holloway (Argo’s Oscar-nominated Alan Arkin) and hooks up with buddy Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) to form a double act that plays Vegas for many years.

All looks good until we go behind the scenes and find all is not well between the two chums. Burt has become a sex-driven ego maniac who has nothing but contempt for everyone around him and his partner, Anton. The couple split after trying to outdo a shock magician known as the Brain Rapist, Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) – and then Burt falls on hard times.

The rest of the film sees Wonderstone try to rekindle his love for magic, and life, through his assistant Jane (Olivia Wilde) and aforementioned hero, Rance Holloway.

Although the parody is thin, the laughs are thick. Carell and Buscemi are spot on as stuck-in-the-‘80s magicians just as Carrey excels as a David Blaine-esque trickster. It’s the performances that really shine, with Alan Arkin putting in a superb comedic performance.

Likewise Tony Soprano himself, James Gandolfini, supports brilliantly reminding the audience what a top gift for laughs he has. In the bigger roles, Carrey is back to his roots with a blinding display of comedicity, playing the Brain Rapist as a cross between Jesus and Kurt Cobain. It would be tempting to say he steals the show but he’s not able to snatch from the hands of Carell.

The former Office star puts in one of his best big screen performances yet, going from cheesy stage show artist to detestable man child in a heartbeat. His fall from grace and return also display his warmer side, though it’s fantastic to see Carell so unlikeable in parts.

There are no surprises in the story, not that that’s a bad thing; it’s a well-trodden story. But there is so much heart and warmth here that the more syrupy and predictable tropes are ignored. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is really all about the terrific cast. You’ll come out beaming after having seen this.

Released in UK cinemas on Friday 15 March 2013.