The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (movie review)

the-incredible-burt-wonderstoneIf you want to watch a by the numbers comedy that short on laughs, then The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is the flick for you.

You’ve seen this movie a hundred times – this movie is so ‘by the numbers’ that I’ll just write out the formula for you:

  1. the protagonist rises up from humble beginnings and achieves success
  2. the success makes the protagonist a jerk
  3. the protagonist loses everything: best friend, money, etc
  4. the protagonist seeks the help of an old mentor and goes back to his roots
  5. the protagonist reconciles with the friend
  6. the protagonist and friend team up and achieve victory
  7. the protagonist gets everything he lost back and more – because he’s a better person and has found true love

See half the movies ever made for examples of the formula in action – and Burt Wonderstone is no exception.But for all of my yackin’, the problem isn’t so much that this is an overused formula for a movie, but the fact that the jokes aren’t especially funny, the characters aren’t particularly interesting and the movie plods along at a speed I presume is equivalent to that of one hundred year old rheumatoid arthritis patients banging. When that happens, I have to lay the blame on the writers and the director, because there is more than enough cast to work with here: Steve Carell as the lead, Steve Buscemi in the supporting role, Olivia Wilde as the love interest, Jim Carrey and the late James Gandolfini as the antagonists – not to mention Alan Arkin as the wise old mentor and a totally wasted Jay Mohr and an utterly useless cameo by David Copperfield. The only thing I can really say is that I’ve never seen this particular version of this movie before – that is, a version where it’s about stage magicians. Your offenders are:

Directed by Don Scardino

Written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein

Based on a story by Chad Kultgen & Tyler Mitchell, and Daley & Goldstein

I’m sure there are some producers who are also to blame and of course everyone involved has to take some share of responsibility for this stinker… expect maybe Jim Carrey, who is working his butt off in his role. I like Steve Carell (a lot), but this is one of the weaker performances I’ve seen him give. I didn’t think his pompous magician voice was all that funny (although I did like his post-bang Derek Jeter styled gift) and he seemed to stop using it, then start doing it again – and it seemed to happen almost at random. They could have done something a lot better with the ending, too – instead of telling us what trick they were going to do, they could have revealed it – and then revealed the secret of how the trick to us afterwards… probably would have made for a more exciting experience for the audience instead of just listing to people explain things and then watching them do exactly what they said they’d do. Too bad I didn’t edit this movie – all the material is there, it’s just in the wrong order.

I wouldn’t say this movie is terrible, but there is a lot of potential here and it’s all squandered. I’m giving The Incredible Burt Wonderstone a 5.5 out of 10 as it’s watchable and has a beginning, middle and end and just barely held my attention.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on July 25, 2013, in movie review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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