THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE is a mildly entertaining comedy with a formulaic plot and one dimensional characters.
The movie has some good laughs here and there, but it's mostly a silly mess.
As geeky young boys, Burt Wonderstone and his friend, Anton, are motivated to become magicians together. In middle school magic is their way of making themselves popular with their peers.
Cut to thirty years later, after they've already spent a decade doing the same cheesy magic show at their own theater in Las Vegas.
Steve Carell"s Burt has turned into a pompous, arrogant womanizer who abuses his assistant (played by Olivia Wilde) and completely dominates Anton who's played by Steve Buscemi.
Burt' is so over-the-top that it's hard to like him at all until an even more obnoxious magician played by Jim Carrey arrives on the scene to compete with him. Carrey's character calls himself the "Brain Rapist." His tricks often involve self-mutilization.
Carrey to his audience: I'm sure you've seen people walk on red hot coals, but I bet you've never seen anybody sleep on them." And then he actually lies down on top of the coals and pretends to sleep.
Later, in a casino bar, Burt confronts the Brain Rapist. "What you do is not magic!"
Carrey responds: "It's natural for a dying leaf to be frightened by the autumn wind."
Dismissed from his gig by a casino owner played by James Gandofini, Burt is reduced to performing tricks in an old people's home where he meets the delightful Alan Arkin as Rance Holloway, the magician whose 1980 video inspired Burt to start going magic tricks. Their encounter motivates Burt once more.
THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE should have been a lot funnier than it is. It might have fared better as a short comedy sketch made for TV instead of this occasionally funny, all-over-the map silliness about a pompous magician whose fall from power turns him into a nice guy who gets the girl.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.