The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (PG-13)

Comedy 100 March 15, 2013
By Alan Scherstuhl
Steve Carell's gift is for men who might drown in their own obliviousness. When his 40-year-old virgin insists that breasts feel like bags of sand, our laughter isn't just at his absurd cluelessness. It's at Carell the performer's ability to lay bare our near-universal impulse to lie to cover up our own ignorance. Carell again plays oblivious in the fitfully inspired magician comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, but he doesn't play human. As the magician of the title, he's a dick David Copperfield on the decline, a third-rate casino act grinding through the same tricks in the same show he's been doing for a decade. Unlike that virgin, Wonderstone is cruel and dumb, capable only of the most selfish and least inventive responses, which stiffs the long scenes of him sexually harassing poor Olivia Wilde (as Wonderstone's assistant) or berating Steve Buscemi (as Wonderstone's bickering partner in magic). It's a Will Ferrell-style part played by an actor lacking Will Ferrell's abandon. The film's biggest surprise is that, after Wonderstone loses everything, we're expected to feel something besides impatience as he learns to become a better person-- and gapes like a child at the wonder of magic. The supporting cast is all first rate, although Wilde is asked to do nothing more than be pretty and earnest and put-upon. Done up like a goonish Brad Pitt, Jim Carrey applies his cartoon expressiveness to its most judicious ends in years, and James Gandolfini kills as a casino owner with no time for bullshit.
Don Scardino Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, Jim Carrey, James Gandolfini, Alan Arkin, Jay Mohr, Michael Bully Herbig, Mason Cook, Luke Vanek Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Chad Kultgen, Tyler Mitchell Chris Bender, Steve Carell, Jake Weiner, Tyler Mitchell Warner Bros. Pictures

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