The Incredible Burt Wonderstone #SXSW2013
Performing the worst kind of magic.
Published on March 10, 2013 | Filed under SXSW 2013
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Oh Burt Wonderstone, what were you trying to be?

It’s super early and I got four hours of shuteye, and for some reason these factors are making me want to write this as an open letter to the film. But I won’t. No one wants that. I don’t want that.

But as I sit on the floor at this ungodly hour, just so I can be guaranteed a spot for Much Ado About Nothing, I find myself increasingly angry at The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.

Staring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, and Jim Carey, BW looks good on paper, and it is, at times, hilarious. Like laugh out loud, did they actually just do that? Hilarious. But this tale of aging, struggling, jaded Vegas magicians is only truly successfully when it is unabashedly going for it.

There’s weird stuff going on with this film’s tone. At times a crass, genuinely funny comedy, at others, a garbled faux love story. And I suppose that’s my issue. What should have been the story of two old friends (Carell and Buscemi) falling out and subsequently rekindling their relationship with both each other and their craft, is actually about Carell and Olivia Wilde getting together. Nothing bothers me more than a tacked on love story.

Carell, Wilde, and Carey at post screening Q&A

Perhaps Carell’s titular character is a womanizer because we the audience had to know the life-long friends were just that—friends. No funny business here, guys! Move along! We aren’t *gasp* gay! But doth protest too much, Burt. And your (and the film’s) constant objectification of women isn’t cute. When the Wonderstone character inevitably changes his ways, gets the girl, and becomes a “better man,” I didn’t care. All the potentially compelling bits were ignored in favor of a budding romance.

This film works when it’s at its most cartoonish, which, sadly, isn’t often enough. If you were going to see this, nothing I say will change that. If you’re on the fence, there are some giggles to be had. If you loathe Jim Carey, be wary. If you’re looking for fully realized female characters…
Sorry! Not happening!

Christine enjoys obsessing over Paracinema magazine. She also loves well written hour long TV dramas. Her free time is spent with her many boyfriends: Brian De Palma, Edgar Wright & Alfred Hitchcock.

  • Alexandra Kittle

    Aw that’s a bummer, I wasn’t sure about this one from the trailer but I thought it might be goofy and fun since it has a good cast. But never mind! I hate tacked-on love stories too, and I’m not crazy about Olivia Wilde anyway.

  • Your review reflects my concerns that stem from two drastically different trailers, neither of which reflect the plot description accompanying said trailers. Sigh. And yes, I will be watching it…