HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
HTS Overall Score:68
I was very eager to view “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” once I saw the list of actors they had lined up for this draw. Alan Arkin, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde, Steve Buscemi, the list goes on. I was expecting a movie filled with both physical and metaphorical magic. Instead we see what happens when a director underutilizes his actors and relies on a mediocre script. While still an entertaining movie with quite a few chuckles they made one giant mistake, and that was putting Steve Carell as the leading man. Steve is a fantastic goofball actor who plays supporting characters VERY VERY well (just look at “Anchorman” and “Bruce Almighty” as proof), but stumbles and loses his charisma when billed as front man in a comedy. Surprisingly enough he does a great job in a more deadpan, serious role ala “Crazy Stupid Love”, but as a lead comedian he over stays his welcome. Here is no different, at the beginning his hijinks will garner quite a few laughs, but as time goes on the magic fades from his jokes.
Burt and Anton are two young kids who suffer at the hand of jocks during grade school. As a result the two boys have to find something that will set them apart, that will elevate themselves above their status as school whipping boys and Burt finds that outlet for them. A magic kit from the world class magician Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin) allows Burt and Anton to bond together and gain the admiration of the students. 10 years later Burt (Steve Carell) and Anton (Steve Buscemi) have become fantastic magicians and have scored a permanent billing at a luxurious Las Vegas hotel run by a corpulent millionaire named Doug Munny (James Gandolfini). 20 years after that they are STILL working the same schtick and their audience ratings are dropping. Refusing to change, the two magicians have become stale and their friendship is falling apart at the seams. Burt is an arrogant, ego maniacal misogynist and Anton is struggling to stay with the team. To make things worse some street magician named Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) is making a name for himself doing the most unimaginable stunts possible and poaching the duo’s audiences. Trying to duplicate Steve Gray’s crazy stunts in a last ditch effort that goes wrong, Anton breaks both his ankles and retires from the scene. This leaves Burt stumbling around in the dark with a lack of ideas and a stale act.
Rolling around from one embarrassing gig to another Burt finally does an act for a retirement home only to find out that one of the members is the great Rance Holloway himself. Enamored by his idol Burt sticks around to do more shoes in an effort to pick Rances mind. There he finally comes face to face with the reason he started doing magic in the first place. Realizing that it was the simple joy of making the impossible possible Burt humbles himself and works those small gigs, the ones where little children look up to him with excited faces and gasp in awe as he makes a dog appear in his hands, the glitz and glamour of the stage is gone and in its place are the simple joys of making dazzling an audience who’s sense of wonder hasn’t been jaded by life yet. As fate would have it he’s been given one more chance. Doug Munny is opening a new hotel and needs a lead illusionist act and has open tryouts. With the help of his lovely assistant Jane (Olivia Wilde) and his old partner Anton, Burt creates an entirely new act that just may shoot him to the top once more.
The film tends to be a bit hit or miss. My best friend happens to be a world class illusionist who travels all over the U.S. and many places of the world all year round has given me a unique perspective into the world of stage magic and I was eagerly hoping for the best. As stated it tends to be drug down by underutilization of A-list stars and over pushing of Steve Carell. Burt tends to be an unlikeable character throughout the whole film and not much changes to fix that. Steve Buscemi does what he can with his small role, but his time on screen is just too limited to make much of an effort. The two scene stealers here are Alan Arkin and Jim Carrey. Alan Arkin has ALWAYS just ooooooozed charisma and deadpan humor in every movie he’s ever been in. His role as the decrepit, but feisty Rance Holloway is priceless and gives a much needed likeable partner to Burt. Jim Carrey absolutely KILLED as the scenery eating Steve Gray. Playing a mocking character of Chris Angel made it even better. With Carrey’s very physical style of comedy his digs and jabs at the illusionist bizarre are absolutely gold. Especially if you’ve seen Chris Angel’s show “Mind Phreak” you’ll see Jim Carrey playing a mirror image role of the king of arrogance. Even Olivia Wilde does a fantastic job as Jane, the sweet (and stunningly beautiful) love interest to Burt.
With all this star power this SHOULD have been a solid hit, the fact that it was just a decent comedy falls directly on the directorial and script decisions rather than any real fault with most of the actors. The film has every actor trying their heart out, but the lack of cohesion and character organization is blatantly the culprit. Putting Steve Carell in the background would have been a bit help as well. Still through all this the film definitely is able to garner quite a few laughs, and the ending had me in stitches where they show HOW they pull off their fantastic ending trick. Also the film made me a little misty eyed, seeing the late James Gandolfini in his last role ever so shortly after his passing. He will be missed.
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, dangerous stunts, a drug-related incident and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11903[/img]Video wise, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” was a bit shy of incredible. Plagued with an inherent softness it wasn’t the crispest and cleanest image I’d seen in existence. While it wasn’t bad by any means it just stayed in that sort of “acceptable” range. While facial detail and shadow detail were quite excellent, nothing stood out that made one say “wow that was a great image”! Long shots are a bit soft to aid with hiding the aging faces of our stars, but still stays crisp enough to present a pleasing image. Shadows are nice and inky with only a hint of black crush. Colors are rich and vibrant at times, while overly saturated and shimmering with a boosted contrast in the outdoor scenes. Flesh tones run hot throughout the film and seem a bit on the pink side. However this appears to be faithful to the source since it’s a mirror image of what was scene theatrically. Digital artifacting is none to be seen, leaving us with a pleasantly satisfactory image. One that won’t wow the audience, but does its job well.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11904[/img]As with the video quality, the audio quality is just satisfactory. For a film about magic and theatricality the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track surprisingly lacks pizazz and oomph. The film is rather front loaded and relies on the mains and center for the majority of the heavy lifting, leaving the rear channels rarely used and left out in the cold. The LFE is also a bit underutilized in the film as well. There were times where the surrounds would light and up and sing with the rest of the speakers, same with the LFE, but those times were sparse and with long breaks between. Not since “Rock of Ages” has Warner Brothers dropped the ball on the audio department and I’m a tad disappointed. While the film has large periods of time where dialogue is the main component the speakers had ample time to let the full range take over with a myriad of auditory effects and musical scores. It just decided to stay a bit anemic and shy. Dialogue is crisp and clean, giving us a great front sound stage. My only complaint was that the rest of the speakers felt underutilized for the type of movie this was.
• Steve Gray Uncut
• Deleted Scenes & Alternate Takes
• Making Movie Magic With David Copperfield
• Gag Reel
Shoulda would coulda, is probably the mantra that I have to say about “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”. So many missed opportunities that could have made this entertaining film great. With such a star studded and talented cast I was hoping for better, but got just plain decent and ordinary at the end. The same goes for the audio and video of the film as well. Warner has done some INCREDIBLE transfers both audio and video wise for quite a few years and to see the lack of effort here was disappointing. The film is not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination and I recommend a rental at the very least, but “what could have been” still taints the experience just a tad.
Starring: Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde, Steve Carell
Directed by: Don Scardeno
Written by: Jonathon Goldstein, John Francis Daley
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 100 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: June 25th, 2013
Available on Blu-Ray Combo Pack/DVD/Digital Download
Buy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Rent It
More about Mike