Reviewed by Movie Moxie’s Alicia Glass
Studio: New Line Cinema
MPAA Rating: PG 13
Director: Don Scardino
Review Rating: 7
Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton have been using stage magic to wow people for many years, but their act, and friendship, is tested when a psycho street magician challenges their popularity.
This is one of those movies where the arrogant main character simply needs to be drop-kicked over the goal post of life. Burt started the world of magic as a way to get back at the bullies who bothered him and Anton in grade school, with wonder and awe and perhaps just a little bit of snark. Now he’s all grown up and still with Anton, doing the same act over and over, pompous and flippant to the point of idiocy, seducing women and discarding them like tissue paper. He’s forgotten the simple joy he found in the original box of Rance Holloway starter magic tricks, and gets royally pissed off when demented street magician Steve Gray starts a large internet and tv following with his ever more outrageous “magic” tricks. Burt and Anton plan to do a large stunt of their own to revamp the popularity of their stage show, but given Burts’ ego, it goes horribly wrong and Anton walks in disgust. Burt simply cannot do the show on his own, and so takes a downhill drive from there. Aided by a former stage assistant, Jane, herself an aspiring magician despite being well you know, female, Burt starts over at the bottom after discovering Rance Holloway in an old folks home. Can Burt, after eating the entire humble pie, bring Anton back for the next great big illusion that will top Steve Gray and cement their standing as the eternally best stage magicians around?
Burt Wonderstone is acted by Steve Carell, and while I didn’t care a whole lot for the character, he did a perfectly fine job acting the guy. Steve Buscemi is Anton, I always liked him, though it’s odd seeing the man play a very simple and innocent stage magician that everyone seems to dump on. Olivia Wilde is Jane, you have to admire the characters sheer endurance if nothing else. And of course Jim Carrey is the Chris Angel-esque Steve Gray, completely over the top and reminding me of Fire Marshall Bill. The long half-dyed hair was a bit much though. Alan Arkin is Rance Holloway, his own personal snark is lovingly brought to the character in a nice unsubtle way. And we even get treated to James Gandolfini as Doug Munny, hotel manager and all-around money-loving jackoff.
It’s hard to bring back the original mystery and wonderment one had when one was a child and first discovered magic. It’s even harder when one is a very jaded older man who just lost everything due to his own idiocy. And while the stage magic tricks aren’t real, there’s nothing illusory about the wonderment that never truly goes away, even when you’re Rance Holloway’s age. That’s what the film tries very hard to bring across, in a tired and roundabout manner, yes, but we get there in the end.
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