Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Out on Blu-Ray and DVD this month is the Incredible Burt Wonderstone, a film about two childhood friends who grew up to be successful magicians due to their inability to make friends with anyone else and their prowess for magical performance.  Eventually Steve Gray, a street magician based on the TV magician Criss Angel, steals their success away from them.


Steve Carrell is Burt Wonderstone who, with his sidekick Anton Marvelton, is part of a pair of very successful magicians. Unfortunately fame and fortune has turned Wonderstone into a cocky egotistical bag of testicles in the shape of a person.  He’s a womaniser and a bad friend; no one would like him in real life.  He’s almost too good at acting like a shallow bastard and somehow, due to some bizzaro script logic, he becomes lovely to Olivia Wilde instead of the realistic thing of staying the massive prick he is.  Rather than being happy for them getting together I felt like I should warn her off him because I know what he’s really like and she’s just a fool that falls in love with all the wrong men.

Eventually a street performer called ‘Steve Gray’ enters the scene and starts stealing away all his customers by doing street magic.  Jim Carey plays Steve Gray, a character based on ‘mindfreak’ Criss Angel and he's nailed it.  

*Interlude about Criss Angel*


I hate Criss Angel, his name, his clothes, his smarmy face and his tedious shitty TV show.  I watched an episode of his show ‘Mindfreak’ recently as some casual passive research on this film before I watched it and in it was a trick where he drove off a cliff and magically appeared in a cage.  The show lasted about half an hour, and an easy twenty minutes of this show was wasted with interviews with him and with obscurely distant relatives like his second cousins who were brought in to clarify that a 4200 feet drop is going to be dangerous.  Twenty-five minutes dedicated to the following things:
  • The T-Rex car
  • The 4200 feet drop
  • The Helicopter
  • The Cage
  • The Cage dangling from the Helicopter
  • The pyrotechnics
  • And mainly how it would be dangerous if all that stuff fell from that distance.  

After ten minutes I realised that I had to watch the whole way to the end despite Criss Angel eliciting a kind of hatred that I usually reserve for kids yelling abuse at old ladies on the bus.  Unfortunately the tedium and his personality beat anything impressive about the stunt out of it.  This left the climax of the show about as engaging as watching an old man fart at a bus stop, it also shows about as much self-shame and artistic merit. I think this comes down to the fact that the tension of a ‘death defying stunt’ comes from you really hoping the person involved doesn’t injure themselves, but when they convince you over thirty minutes that you actually want to watch them burn to death in a fiery mess it’s nothing more than a disappointment. Like buying a second hand colouring book and finding out that it’s already been coloured in.

*Interlude over*

A common complaint about the film, that I would agree with, is that it jumps from tone to tone without ever really settling on anything, it feels like it’s supposed to be one self absorbed narcissistic ball bag versus a borderline hedonistic haircut with a flailing moron dangling from it then suddenly it’s a zero to hero film then a dark comedy, then a children’s film.  


It was worth a watch if you’re stuck for something to watch some weekend with a beer or whatever but if you’re looking for something that’s going to inspire you to quit your dead end job and follow your dreams then this is not it.  Unless you are an undeniable bastard and your dreams are to be a magician in Vegas.  If you are and they are I hope you fail miserably.

David Roberts, CeX Ann Street, Belfast



The Incredible Burt Wonderstone at CeX



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