THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE (Don Scardino, 2013)
The incredible thing about THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE is that you have three comic actors, each dishing out their brand of humor, and when they start firing gags, you might want to get out of the way.
Whereas we all know that Jim Carrey became known for his exaggerated faces and over-the-top acting, Steve Carell although somewhat similar to Carrey in style, approaches his characters with mildness that slowly but strongly shifts into absurd. Then there's Steve Buscemi, who is usually low key but he knows how to handle a satire every now and then.
After all, this ought to be a celebration for Jim Carrey's return to form. We all miss insane Jim Carrey, with the big eyes and the big mouth. As a hotshot street magician named Steve Gray, Carrey outcrazies the ceiling for crazy.
Meanwhile, Carell performs well as a magician who has been consumed by his ego over the years. Buscemi plays his trusty sidekick, whom he constantly abuses. There's even a rich back story that solidifies the friendship between Burt (Carell) and Anton (Buscemi) which leads us to root for their eventual triumph in the end.
Throw in the bombshell in the form of Olivia Wilde and you have the formula for an escapist comedy, but Wilde surprises us and proves she can play with the big boys, bringing her awkward magician's assistant character into giggly awkwardness.
Alan Arkin, who is magnificent here plays a former celebrity magician, now retired in a nursing home, who helps Burt get back on his feet. Arkin convinces us of his character's optimism, and eventual pessimism, and again, back to optimism that I'm so surprised he didn't get the Oscar for his work on ARGO. Whenever there's Alan Arkin, it's sure to be a great movie.
While the film may be about the joys of magic, it also allows a partial look on the other side of the performance art, where actual human beings struggle to live day by day.
Laugh out loud funny from start to finish (and this is not an exaggeration, mind you), THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE delivers every promise it made and more. Just when you think there couldn't be any more surprises, the film exceeds expectation. Like a grand finale for a magic act, the sequence in the end credits ought not to be missed.