agic is a subject that many films have been made about and there aren't many that I've ever been overly impressed with. But when I heard that a movie about Las Vegas magicians was being made that poked fun at how ridiculous they are, I was intrigued. When I heard it was going to star Steve Carrell and Jim Carey, I was totally on board and excited. The story is as simple and cliche as it gets; in fact it's so bad, you'd expect it to star Adam Sandler. But it goes to show you what a difference inspired casting makes.
The titular character is an egotistical a-hole who has ruled the Vegas circuit for a decade with the help of his best friend Anton Marvelton, played by Steve Buscemi. Despite a dusty, outdated routine, the only thing that threatens that streak of success is David Blane-like street magician Steve Gray, played by Jim Carey, who seduces new audiences with something dangerous and new. Burt has to change, not only is ways, but himself to stay relevent and that is the premise of the story.
If that sounds like something you've seen a million times, that's because it is; just replace "magician" with any other profession and you've seen it before. That's not to say that this still isn't a really, really funny movie. Carrell is the indisputed star of the film, despite sharing screen time with some heavy hitters, and it's a good thing that he is because the man can make comedy gold out of just about anything. Carey can too, for that matter, eventhough he has limited scenes, which is good since it's possible to be too saturated to Jim Carey.
Director Don Scardino may not have many movies under his belt...okay any, but his TV career is way, way impressive. He's worked on shows that range from The West Wing to 30 Rock and hes done them for decades. His transition to feature films seems to suit him just fine since he directed this with as much skill as any other director of a comedy of this nature. Maybe he lacks the control to let great improv actors improv as much as Judd Apatow and Adam McKay do, but regardless, the end product is one of the funniest films of the year.
By the end of the film the titular character has learned very little and changed his life in ways that seem stupid, but it's not that important. He ends up with Olivia Wilde who plays a character that is only in the film as a way to add some estrogen too. But after 100 minutes, you've laughed and you've laughed consistently from begining to end. Even in the very troublesome final Act of a comedy, there are still plenty of laughs. Perhaps that's the real magic trick...making a great comedy out of such a cliche, boring script.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: A-