The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: Review


I was a bit unsure about this when I first saw the trailer. It had a great comedy cast, it was about magic (which is a brilliant idea) and it seemed pretty funny. Sadly, most of the laughs are in the trailer. There are a few besides that, but not the laugh-out-loud kind. It is enjoyable to watch but very predictable.

Steve Carrell plays the title character, who began practising magic as a young kid along with his partner, Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi). The pair now have a magic show in Bally’s in Vegas. Ten years on, they are performing the same, tired routine and cannot stand to be around each other. Burt thinks he is a star; he is arrogant, sex-driven and thinks he is better than the show. The show now has poor tickets sales and the pair can’t figure out to keep their act fresh for the youth today, so it gets cancelled and the two part ways.


Burt has no money and has to start taking basic entertainer gigs to pay the bills. He has a hard time competing against Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), a newcomer who is changing the face of magic with stunts of will such as holding in his urine and sleeping on hot coals. While on an entertainer job, he meets his childhood magic hero, Rance Holloway, who makes him lose his ego and love magic again.

It is so funny in the beginning as we get to see some of Burt & Anton’s show, their costumes, tans, cheesy on-stage banter and crazy hair. That may have worked in the 90s but they look seriously outdated now. Problem is that Burt thinks the show is amazing and it doesn’t need to change, which ends up being his downfall. I also love the introduction of Steve and his crazy antics for his show “Brain Rapist”. Problem is that there wasn’t much laugh-out-loud humour- it was funny in the awkward sense or the “this is weird” sense. Jim Carrey and Alan Arkin were the funniest but they weren’t in it much at all.


I loved the characterisation of Burt as the arsehole in the beginning, particularly in “the hot box” scene, which was pretty funny. After the show goes down the pan, it just gets rather sentimental and clichéd, in which he is rediscovering his love for magic and entertaining people. It just seems to happen too quickly without him really noticing what he did wrong, except with his old assistant Jane, played by Olivia Wilde (who was grossly underused).

It was very predictable because you know all along that he will turn it around and be friends with Anton again. His romance with Jane was ridiculous and it couldn’t possibly happen after the way he had treated her. Steve Buscemi looked really out of place and only shone in the hot box scene and his trip to Cambodia. James Gandolfini was perfect as the Bally’s CEO.


Basically, Jim was on top form- he looks so different and he was back doing psychical comedy. Alan Arkin was brilliant and both of them stole the scenes they were in, which wasn’t many. This meant that it failed in most areas. I just wish Steve Carrell would be a bit different and that Wilde had more to do. I loved the beginning and the magic idea but there is no originality to the general plot after that. It was too predictable and not funny enough. Pleasant but flawed watch.


  1. Overall, this seems like the type of movie Will Ferrell would do, but instead, we have Steve Carell taking over the reigns, and that is not as fun to watch. Good review.

    • walesy89 says:

      You are completely right. I didn’t even think about that! I don’t always like Will Ferrell but I think he would have been a better fit.

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