Huge disappointment after the surprisingly witty original. Here, the film seems completely disinterested in its characters, so ripe with nuance and subversion, and is instead content simply to gross out its audience with a parade of low brow humour, casual mysogyny and unimaginative action. Not even the addition of an enthusiastic Jim Carrey – in place of the sorely-missed Nicolas Cage – can help this misguided failure.
I caught this on a flight and really that’s the perfect place to see this utterly inconsequential yet mildly diverting comedy. Steve Carell is on autopilot most of the time here, while Steve Buscemi’s involvement in a comedy is both baffling and rather unsuccessful. Jim Carrey does far better here than he did in Kick-Ass 2, actually investing his character with some energy and antagonism that yield a few solid laughs. It is Olivia Wilde, however, who comes out of this film best, given a nothing role as Burt’s assistant, but managing to deliver a believable and wholly identifiable and sympathetic performance from it.
Burt Wonderstone and his sidekick, Anton Marvelton (played by Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi) are old-school magicians enjoying the last days of the stardom as the world of magic starts to change, with the rise of edgier performers like Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), who embody a rougher, less showy kind of stage craft. Soon Wonderstone and Marvelton find the going tough and lose the patronage of their hotel-owning sponsor Doug Munny (James Gandolfini) and Wonderstone tries to escape a personal nadir with the help of former assistant Jane (Olivia Wilde) and his childhood inspiration, retired magician Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin).
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a fairly formulaic redemption comedy. Although much of the film is flat and familiar, there are some good comic moments, especially from Arkin, Carrey and Gandolfini. Unchallenging but entertaining, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a light experience, perfect for a long flight, or midweek diversion.