The oh-so sweet story tells of a young Burt Wonderstone (Carell) being bullied repeatedly at school, until one day his absentee-mom gives him a surprise birthday gift.
It’s a magic set from the then-world renowned magician Rance Holloway played by the indefatigable Arkin. Magic makes Burt popular, and he and best friend Anton Marvelton (Buscemi) become partners in one of the most successful magic act of their time.
But then, things start to unravel. Pretty soon they’re facing a slow show business death as has-beens.
Gandolfini is the picture’s scene-stealer as Doug Munny, the hot-shot manager of Bally’s casino. He’ll do anything for a buck. Gandolfini is white hot; he hasn’t looked this good in a role since his Tony Soprano days on HBO.
The movie is fueled by a terrific script by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley. NBC “30 Rock” vet Don Scardino directs and gets the most out of his A-listers.
Carrel delivers his usual top-notch work, while Busecmi, Wilde, Arkin and Gandolfini provide solid support. Comic Jay Moir is even on board as a struggling magician, and he’s top notch as well.
At a different level, the movie is a great send-up of Las Vegas’s retched excesses. Having just spent a week there, I can attest that the worst thing one can do is to take any of it seriously.
The hot new magician is Steve Gray, essayed by Carrey, who lost weight and buffed up to play the role of a manic magician. His performance shows yet again what a terrifically versatile and under-appreciated actor he is.
When Carry’s Gray starts wowing crowds with his sado-masochistic feats like spending the night on hot coals or ripping his face to reveal a missing playing card. Munny pressures Wonderstone to come up with fresh material but fires him and forces to surrender his penthouse suite.
He moves in with a wanna-be magician played by Olivia Wilde, who provides more than enough eye candy to carry the picture. She holds Wonderstone in awe, but ultimately spurns him when she discovers he’s washed up.
Burt ends up doing parlor tricks at an old folks home where he runs into his idol Rance. Arkin delivers a solid performance and eventually reaffirms Burt’s commitment to magic. They form a new team and he gradually begin to overhaul the act.
Burt finally faces off with Gray when Munny invites both to a birthday party for his son. Who wins and who loses the magic face-off is up to the audience to decide. But guess who gets the girl!
Burt reunites with Marvelton for one last chance to bring down the house at Munny’s new club, so they come up with a mind blowing trick. The question is, will it work?
If you like Steve Carell and Jim Carrey, you’ll love “Burt Wonderstone.” The film opens in theaters this Friday (Mar. 15). Be sure to follow TheImproper on Twitter for all the latest movie updates.