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October 23, 2014

Review: ‘Burt Wonderstone’ not incredible, but does trick

Sure, the new magician comedy “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” doesn’t end up being nearly as incredible as the title suggests; but in the capable hands of a solid cast including Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey, the film does the trick for audiences looking for a safe night at the movies.

Carell stars as Burt Wonderstone, a legendary magician who, after 10 years of doing the same act on the Las Vegas Strip, has turned into an vain jerk who does nothing but bicker at his childhood friend and magical partner, Anton Marvelton (Buscemi).

The partnership finally shatters when a Criss Angel-like street magician (Carrey) arrives on the scene, forcing Burt and Anton to keep current and attempt a new stunt that turns into a disaster. Only a lesson in humility will save Burt — and ultimately the duo — from falling into obscurity and disappearing for good.

See my review of the film with Diana Pierce on “KARE 11 News at 11″ below.

Directed by “30 Rock” helmer Don Scardino, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” has a good share of laughs, thanks mostly to Carrey, whose outlandish brand of humor fits his extreme character perfectly.

Carell and Buscemi are funny, too, but mainly because we’re laughing at them instead of with them (Carell’s Wonderstone, in particular, is horribly out of touch). As talented as Vegas magicians are, there’s still something inherently funny about velvet jumpsuits and lion’s main hairdos.

Alan Arkin steals the show, though, as veteran magician character Rance Holloway, demonstrating — like he does in one of the film’s more poignant moments — that there’s no match to an old school performer with passion.

“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” Rated PG-13, three stars out of four.

See the trailer from the film below.

What other local critics are saying …

Chris Hewitt of the Pioneer Press in his 2 star review says “the characters might work in a sketch on ‘Saturday Night Live’ but don’t wear well over the course of 100 semi-amusing minutes.”

Colin Covert of the Star Tribune gives the film only one star, calling it a “crushingly unfunny comedy.”

Bring Me The News film critic Tim Lammers is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and annually votes on the Critics Choice Movie Awards. Locally, he reviews films on “KARE 11 News at 11” and WCCO Radio. As a feature writer, Tim has interviewed more than 1,000 major actors and filmmakers throughout his career and his work is syndicated nationwide.