You assume two very talented, and occasionally brilliant, actors would have amazing chemistry on-screen, but you’d be wrong. The chemistry between Steve Carrell and Steve Buscemi is so forced and terrible, that the screenplay has to literally start when they’re both young boys, and emphasize how lonely they are and how they became friends. This is to make it painfully clear to the audience that they’re best of friends since the performances from both men can’t really sell it to the audience.
There are a remarkable string of baffling unfunny jokes from thereon in that serve no purpose but to plant a punch line and fail big time. For some reason Buscemi’s character as a child lets Burt’s know that he takes testosterone because when he was born he was halfway close to being a girl. Why did we need to know that? Perhaps it’s to make way for the barrage of mean spirited jokes about Buscemi’s appearance. I’m not too sure. “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” tries to mine a bit of comedy that’s been treaded for a while now. It also tries to make jokes out of the field of magicians and performers, all of which have been noted as goofy and silly for almost two decades.
What’s worse is that none of the characters are played for laughs, but instead are played as deadpan dramatic characters with a comedic bent that are never as funny as they think they are. There’s no reason why we should know Burt was a latch key child. There’s no reason why Burt is suddenly a diva as a magician, and there’s not a lot of reason why Burt is the star of the magic act he plays in. Carrell really plays “Burt Wonderstone” like a magic version of “Talladeega Nights.” He’s an inept outcast who becomes a celebrity for a huge talent, along with his best friend.
The two become enemies after the main character becomes a diva, the main character finds a rival in someone much more talented sporting an extreme personality, the character loses everything, and rebuilds to become a star again. Burt just isn’t that interesting a character, in the end. And Carrell can never seem to derive laughter from the character he’s written as. Most of the film is based around a pretty lame premise where Jim Carrey co-star as yet another character with potential to be very funny, but is just dull. Carrey doesn’t seem to know how to channel the rubber clown he used to be, so he basically plays antagonist Steve Gray like a horror movie villain, with gleams of menace that defeat the purpose of the intended gags.
Carrey is seemingly supposed to be mocking Criss Angel, but he never really goes over the top with the persona. Instead he grimaces and grunts every line of dialogue while never actually displaying his knack for physical comedy. I mean, are we really supposed to find him cutting his face and pulling out a playing card funny? Are we, really? Wow! Alan Arkin’s character is slowly dying from a painful stroke while Carrell and Wilde watch in agony. That’s… hilarious? Nothing in the movie makes a lick of sense, and in effect, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” ends up as a painfully tedious and unpleasant comedy completely void of any laughs. It’s a shame to see such talent go to waste. Especially Olivia Wilde who is absolutely beautiful but by no means funny.
The Blu-Ray and DVD combo comes with almost a half hour of deleted scenes, alternate takes from key scenes that tweak whatever terrible joke was told. “Making Movie Magic with David Copperfield” is an eight minute interview with David Copperfield who discusses his cameo in the movie, as well as the difference between movie and stage magic. “Steve Gray Uncut” is a nine minute look at Jim Carrey as Steve Gray giving a “Best Of” clip montage of his show “The Brain Rapist.” There’s finally a so-so four minute Gag Reel.