The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Film Review
World Premier at South By Southwest Film Festival
By Philip Hohle
Have you lost the magic you once possessed? Or rather, have you ever found yourself in a place where your life practices or professional proficiencies, once performed with joyful and effortless effect, have become stale and nauseating?
A common archetype of narrative film is found in stories of would-be heroes who fall victim to their own success. One may identify with protagonists who discover that their once satisfying calling has become burdensome, tarnished, or even harmful. Along this journey, these heroes often lose their trusted companions as well as their vision. These classic stories ultimately have the hero entering a final confrontation (often with inner demons) where they experience a rebirth. This results in a degree of restoration for the protagonist as they return to some status or role in the community. Reconnected with their true calling, the hero returns with some lesson or benefit for the community and the viewer.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a new comedy featuring popular stars Steve Carell and Jim Carrey. Burt (Carell) becomes a famous entertainer as a result of his childhood passion for performing magic tricks. Over time, he loses this love as he peaks as a Las Vegas entertainer. Not only does he lose his edge as a performer but also he finds himself unable to tolerate his childhood friend and partner Anton (Steve Buscemi). As the duo struggles to maintain their professional advantage, they encounter a foil in the emerging street entertainer Steve Grey (Carey), whose edgy act is more shock than wonder.
As Burt and Anton lose their spot as the preeminent Vegas act, Burt gradually discovers that he has also lost most of his humanity. Aspiring magician Jane (Olivia Wilde) and Burt’s legendary childhood mentor Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin) help Burt rediscover his passion for performing magic tricks and help him learn again how to love others.
For the Christian, this journey is often all too familiar. A journey of discipleship can be a joyous parade, but it can also seem like a lonely trek into a desert of apparent meaningless. At times, a faith traveller may find their journey stultified— their steps painfully visionless. This film is a humorous reminder that the trappings of success can indeed become a trap.
Unfortunately, the film is not for children, as it contains some crude language, sexual situations, and dangerous stunts—Jim Cary at his hilarious best. In any case, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is destined to be one of the top comedies of the year.