Abra-Abra-Cadabra: A Little Magic with Burt Wonderstone

[11 March 2013]

By Dorothy Burk

As a child in the ‘80s, I loved watching David Copperfield on TV because his high-tech tricks were a truly magical experience. Even today I can remember some of his more amazing feats. It’s precisely this sense of wonder and joy that The Incredible Burt Wonderstone plays on in order to draw its audience. The film premiered to an enthusiastic audience on the first night of SXSW Film 2013 at the Paramount Theatre. Those who showed up for the sold-out premier were treated to an introduction by John Francis Daley, complete with the on-stage antics of Jim Carrey.

Writers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein hit the red carpet at SXSW

Writers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein hit the red carpet at SXSW

Though a bit predictable and formulaic at times, the movie still offered plenty of laughs and stellar performances by Steve Carell (Burt Wonderstone), Steve Buscemi (Anton Marvelton), Olivia Wilde (Jane), Jim Carrey (Steve Gray), and Alan Arkin (Rance Holloway). Buscemi turned in the most delightful, heartfelt performance in the film as partner to the egomaniacal, velvet-clad Burt Wonderstone. Writers Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daley crafted a script that allowed Carrey and Buscemi in particular plenty of room to breathe.

Jim Carrey charmed the audience at the Friday premier

Jim Carrey charmed the audience at Friday\‘s premier

The stunning Olivia Wilde on the SXSW red carpet

The stunning Olivia Wilde on the SXSW red carpet

The movie follows veteran magician Wonderstone as he tries to make it in the new world of magic, which is ushered in by the David Blaine-like Gray. As a classic magician, poor Burt just can’t understand what’s so great about shock-value street performing. When his friendship with Anton takes a turn for the worst and Burt loses his headlining show in Las Vegas, he must pull off one great trick to get back to the top of the magic game. He’s helped—and hindered—by Doug Munny (James Gandolfini), who will be familiar in a tragicomic way to moviegoers throughout Nevada.

Of course, the journey back to the top is full of roadblocks and opportunities. Burt has to rebuild his friendship with Anton. He must learn how to stop objectifying his assistant, Jane, and appreciate her talent as a magician. It’s the sort of stuff that fall-from-grace comedies about performers are always made of, but that certainly doesn’t cheapen the fun of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. Visual gags and lightning-fast one liners made the movie a great choice for SXSW Film’s opening night.

Jim Carrey and Olivia Wilde were audience favorites both onscreen and off

Jim Carrey and Olivia Wilde were audience favorites both onscreen and off

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone will be in theaters on March 15.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/169211-abra-abra-cadabra-a-little-magic-with-burt-wonderstone/