“Your skin makes me cry”
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was a film I had been looking forward to since I first heard about it a few months ago and combined with my new found love for Carell’s work since last year when I went on a rampage and watched every film he has been in it was fair to say I was probably expecting too much from this. When I had read about this film and the cast, most notably Jim Carey’s addition, it was like two titans reuniting after their chaotic caper in Bruce Almighty even if Carell’s role was minor he was memorable. This time the roles are reversed with Carey playing understudy in Burt Wonderstone. In the end this film of course did not live up to my expectations and I think I have some idea as to where things went wrong in a film that probably could have been a lot funnier.
When Steve Carell does comedy well, he does it very well indeed. And there are certain films storylines where he thrives and they all revolve around an important cornerstone of Carell’s character no matter what the situation or story his wife must leave him at the start, then he fights to get this back through the film before either 1. He earns her respect back and they live happily ever after or 2. He realises his wife was actually a bitch and ditches her for a younger and more attractive Hollywood alternative. Burt Wonderstone replaces the loss of a wife with the loss of a best friend and where the friendship between Burt and Anton was well built upon from the start the interest in the story begins to wain towards the middle and for a lot of the film feels like it doesn’t know itself where it is going or what point it’s trying to make.
Jim Carey appears to be coming back into fashion this year after not really appearing in a proper comedy film since I Love You Phillip Morris in 2009, however this big come back to comedy feels almost like a warm up act towards Kick Ass 2 later this year where it looks likely he will once again thrive albeit in another supporting role. He plays Steve Gray, street magician in Burt Wonderstone and parodies the likes of David Blaine brilliantly and humorously with that little bit of hard to watchness that makes a lot of Carey’s roles so individual. It becomes hard to watch however when Jim Carey begins to steal the film from underneath Carell’s feet as he reaches the end of what he can offer his role rather early on Carey goes beyond crazy and when both appear on screen together of course the audience are attracted more to the massive screen presence that is Jim Carey. It’s not that Carell is unfunny here, it’s just that Carey is unique and was within his element whereas the character of Burt always seemed slightly out of reach for Steve Carell.
If anyone has seen The Magicians written by and starring the cast of Peep Show they will know, where it may not be the best film, it is a lot funnier within the same genre and themes of magicians and done simply in order to get the jokes to work. In Burt Wonderstone however it feels like the story came before any jokes which is a problem in comedy, you need a few jokes to work off and where the idea of two has-beens coming up against a modern threat always creates a good underdog story but a story nonetheless that is predictable from the very start. The film does have a nice little ending which fuses humour and wonder and leaves a good feeling inside you.
It is a big let down of a film because Carell usually controls and dominates the screen so well fails to impress and is well and truly outshone by Carey’s comeback even though it isn’t a classic role that I could pick out and sit next to The Mask, Truman Burbank, Bruce Nolan or even Count Olaf.
It’s an average little film at best and it does have a couple of laughs in it but it most definitely not anything special and not worth anyone going out of their way to see it.