This week, WRL Development Officer Benjamin Goldberg takes a look at some fascinating books and films.
This is a sweet movie. As school children Albert and Anthony found each other in the school cafeteria. They instantly became best friends and magicians-in-training. And so began the story of Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi). As adults they transformed into full-fledged magicians, having crafted a Las Vegas magic show that delivers them to the pinnacle of their profession. But, where can they go from the top?
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone follows a familiar buddy film storyline. There’s nothing innovative in that respect, but the well-rehearsed construct does not detract from the enjoyment of the movie for me. It makes it comfortable to watch. As with many films of this ilk the story includes a love interest, Jane (Wilde), a nemesis, Steve Gray (Carrey), and a guiding light, Rance Holloway (Arkin).
Early into the story the duo’s popularity is vanishing, their act is stale, and their friendship has all but disappeared. Smaller audiences and the rising infamy of street magician/competitor Steve Gray force them to try to freshen things up. The attempt is a complete failure and presto chango, even the illusion of friendship is gone. Like a woman in a box, their friendship is sawed in two. You see it coming because Burt has become an egotistical, self-absorbed, fool. The rest of the film is about putting the friendship back together (focusing more on Wonderstone than on Marvelton, as the title suggests) and saying abracadabra to magically reunite the act. Carrell and Buscemi are wonderful as best friends and angry partners. They have a chemistry together that is fun to watch. Carrey’s character is classic Jim Carrey. He’s obnoxious, loud, annoying, and witty. Wilde and Arkin fill out the cast with nice performances that add to the story.
While a straightforward storyline, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone includes some inside jokes about (and I suspect for) magicians, that suggest the script was Informed by someone familiar with the world of illusionists. Some of the lines and attitudes offer glimpses into the world of performing magicians. In fact, the production notes reveal that world renowned magician David Copperfield served as a special consultant on the movie.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was a delightful family (PG-13) movie. We made our ice cream disappear while watching it. There are some scenes that are suggestive, but nothing too racy. The plot provides a simple, positive moral that leaves the audience ready to pick a card, any card.
Check the WRL catalog for The Incredible Burt Wonderstone