Thursday, 21 March 2013



Unless they're being ironic, Incredible is one of the words that doesn't belong in the movie's title. They could have called it The Credible Burt Wonderstone, The Mediocre Burt Wonderstone or The Utter Pillock Burt Wonderstone, but that probably wouldn't have pulled in the punters in their thousands. Furthermore, there's precious little wonder to be had, so the very best the marketing people could have done with it is to call it Burt Stone. For the record, I laughed precisely zero times and smiled once - and that was for a gag about self-harming. Literally, the laughs just never started. Which, considering the presence of Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi and Alan Arkin, is some kind of impressive. Might it have something to do with director Don Scardino being the star of glum 1980 slasher He Knows You're Alone?

Carell is The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: a brilliant but egotistic Vegas magician whose partnership with Anton (Buscemi) has lasted for decades, but their show is getting stale and the two men increasingly hate each other. The act finally crumbles when they need to compete with the bizarre Blainesque stunts of miserablist self-mutilating weirdo Steve Gray (Jim Carrey): it all ends in disaster and Burt is reduced to entertaining at a retirement community. But that's where he meets his childhood hero Rance (Arkin)...can he find the inspiration to make it back to the top?

You'd also think that a movie about the entertainment industry would be entertaining: that some of the glitz and glamour would rub off. Well, it doesn't. The sad fact about The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is that it just isn't funny enough. I don't believe it's just me and my questionable sense of humour; I think that's basically to do with the main character spending most of the movie behaving incredibly childishly. Burt himself is a tiresome, self-obsessed bore and I have no reason to want him to succeed. Far more interesting is the look at the generational change in the conjurer's art - from the cheesy card tricks and props of the likes of Paul Daniels, to the idiotic endurance feats of today's shock performers, but that's rather lost in the uninteresting tale of unsympathetic people having bad but entirely justified things happen to them, and the jokes which simply aren't funny enough.


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