The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Directed by Don Scardino
The story of the incredible Burt Wonderstone begins in 1982, when a bullied young Burt arrives home after school to find the house empty on his birthday, with instructions from his mother on how to make his own cake, including going to the shop for the ingredients. When he opens the present left for him he finds a magic kit, complete with instructional video, and becomes obsessed with magic, the sense of wonder it brings and the feeling that anything is possible. Through the magic tricks a friendship is formed at school, which over the years ends up being a partnership in a very showy Vegas act, where they speak about their “magical friendship” and it becomes the basis of their act together. Time goes by and Burt becomes tired of his act, but doesn’t want to change anything, until his position is threatened by the arrival of a popular new magician, Steve Gray, who calls himself the Brain Rapist. His acts are as horrific as his name, but he manages to pull crowds by being more extreme, outrageous and even sickening, more like Jackass stunts than magic, but the audience is once again thrilled by new things they haven’t seen before. In a failed attempt to create a similar type of act, Burt and Anton have a falling out and their act falls apart. The two friends go their separate ways but are soon humbled by their experiences and realize all the things they had lost sight of: the importance of their friendship, and their excitement about magic. Everything builds up to a final showdown between the competing magicians, where Steve completes his final dramatic act (there is nothing magic about it, he is just going for gross), but is completely overshadowed by Burt (and new partner Jane) and Anton’s grand new magic act.
It is a heart warming ending to a story that reminds us about the importance of our friendships and not losing the wonder and excitement we had as children.
This is one of those movies that as soon as it started I knew I was going to enjoy it. I was taken back to the eighties in the opening scenes and loved all the details. You can feel the excitement over their newly learned magic tricks and in turn feel the disappointment we are meant to feel when the act goes stale years later. The parts are well cast, particularly Jim Carrey as the “Brain Rapist”, but also Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi as Burt and Anton. Olivia Wilde was great as Jane, but they could have done a lot more with her. She showed off her talent in the parts she was given but I guess after all this is a movie about The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.
I am a sucker for a feel good movie and always love a happy ending so I was pleased with the end result of this film. It was entertaining even if it was predictable, and to my delight I found myself laughing at a lot of the humor.
Written by Ben Freeman