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home : columnists and contributors : columnists and contributors October 6, 2015

3/21/2013 1:14:00 PM
Movie Review: The Incredible Burt Wunderstone
Cynthia Morse Zumbaugh

This is quite a polarizing movie; I haven't heard anyone say, "It was so-so." Most people either really love it or completely hate it. I am of the former, I was so happy to see Jim Carrey back on screen and at his most manic. Steve Carell may have top billing, but Carrey is the star of this movie.

Burt Wonderstone (Carell) and his sidekick Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) have been boring audiences with an act that has remained unchanged for years. Enter Steve Gray (Carrey,) a street magician ala Chris Angel who will do anything to himself for attention. When Wonderstone's employer decides that Gray is the future of the business, he fires Wonderstone and Marvelton.

We follow Wonderstone as he falls into the depths of despair, living on the street. When he scores a job doing card tricks at a retirement home, he meets his childhood idol and inspiration, Rance Holloway (beautifully played by Alan Arkin.) Holloway takes him under his wing and Wonderstone is on the rebound.

I can't remember a less likable lead that Burt Wonderstone; he is a horrible excuse for a human being, but Carell plays that part wonderfully. Olivia Wilde is present, not particularly memorable, as the love interest and Steve Buscemi is remarkably touching as Wonderstone's oft put-upon partner. Alan Arkin never fails to entertain and he continues that streak here; his character adds some much needed humanity to this movie.

There is no doubt that this movie belongs to Carrey. If you don't care for him, you are not going to like this movie, and even if you do, I think this one requires a specific perspective. It has a dark undertone that plays to my taste; obviously that is not true for everyone.

This is rated PG 13, there is a lot of sexual innuendo, plenty of profanity and some very disturbing scenes. Many of the scenes of Gray's "magic" are more self mutilation than magic, in my opinion, and not always easy to watch.

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