Advertisement

Movie Mom

Movie Mom

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual content, dangerous stunts, a drug-related incident and language
Profanity:Very strong language -- many s-words, one f-word
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references and non-explicit situations, crude humor
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, drunkenness, scenes in bar, humorous use of knock-out drug
Violence/Scariness:Comic peril. violence, and self-mutilation
Diversity Issues:Character makes sexist remarks
Movie Release Date:March 15, 2013
DVD Release Date:June 25, 2013
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content, dangerous stunts, a drug-related incident and language
Profanity: Very strong language -- many s-words, one f-word
Nudity/Sex: Sexual references and non-explicit situations, crude humor
Alcohol/Drugs: Drinking, drunkenness, scenes in bar, humorous use of knock-out drug
Violence/Scariness: Comic peril. violence, and self-mutilation
Diversity Issues: Character makes sexist remarks
Movie Release Date: March 15, 2013
DVD Release Date: June 25, 2013

Everyone on screen seems to be having a blast, but this story of rival magicians in Las Vegas is not as much fun for the audience.  It wants to pull a rabbit out of a hat, but there’s really nothing there.

Steve Carell plays Burt Wonderstone, who fell in love with doing magic tricks when he was a bullied kid.  His only friend was Anton (Steve Buscemi) who also loved magic, and they developed an act together that led to a very successful run at a Las Vegas hotel owned by Doug Munny (James Gandolfini, nicely showing the thuggishness under the veneer of geniality).   They were headliners.  They had their own theater.  And they had a series of beautiful assistants.  All were given the same blonde wig and all were called Nicole.  The most recent Nicole is Jane (Olivia Wilde).

Advertisement

But the act has gotten stale.  Burt has 70’s hair and is so slick with spray tan it may require slight of hand to keep from sliding out of his clothes.  As for the act, Burt is just phoning it in, waiting for his next empty sexual encounter.  He seems more excited by having the biggest bed in Vegas than by what goes on in it.  And audiences are excited by a new street performer named Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) known as “The Brain Rapist.”  What he does is not magic.  He does a series of dangerous stunts, most of which involves some form of mortification of the flesh.  That card an audience member selected from the deck?  He will slice his cheek open to pull it out, covered in blood but still bearing the name scrawled on it with a Sharpie.  He doesn’t just walk across hot coals; he spends the night on them, barbecuing himself.  “They’re calling him the future of magic,” Munny says.

Advertisement

Burt ends up alone and broke, with no place to live and “in need of rabbit food and birdseed.”  Finding the magic again will require him to break through the years of numbness and self-involvement.

There are a skit’s worth of good moments, mostly about Burt’s arrogance and cluelessness.  When Jane makes dinner for him in her apartment, he offers to clean up, but thinks that means putting the dishes outside her front door.  And Carell has a funny cry.  Carrey captures the faux mysticism of “endurance artists” like David Blaine, but there’s no pay-off in seeing him suffer.  Wilde is underused in the usual endlessly-patient-until-the-time-to-grow-up speech, especially frustrating given the film’s superficial claim to countering the marginalization of female characters.  Even Alan Arkin cannot make interesting the old-time magician who first inspired the young Burt to learn to make things disappear.  What this movie is missing is — magic.

Advertisement

Parents should know that this film includes sexual references and non-explicit situations, crude humor, drinking and drunkenness, scenes in a bar, a bully, comic drug use including drugs surreptitiously given to adults and children, strong language (many s-words, one f-word), and comic but dangerous stunts with graphic injuries.

Family discussion: What went wrong with the act and how did that relate to what went wrong with their friendship? What made Burt change his mind? To audiences really enjoy acts involving physical danger and mutilation? Which trick did you like the best and why?

If you like this, try: a terrific documentary about young magicians called “Make Believe”

Previous Posts

Slate's Compilation of Movie Scenes With Teenagers Climbing Through Bedroom Windows
Slate has a very funny supercut inspired by a scene in "Paper Towns," where Cara Delevingne climbs through the window of her next door neighbor, played by Nat Wolff. Apparently every movie about teenagers features someone climbing through a window. ...

posted 8:00:50am Aug. 03, 2015 | read full post »

A "Star Wars" Superfan Breaks Down All the Changes and Tweaks
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNbzSH84mj0 ...

posted 8:00:49am Aug. 03, 2015 | read full post »

The Oldest Living Movie Stars
The Film Experience has a put together a list of the 200 oldest movie stars, from age 82-105.  It includes two-time Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland ("Gone With the Wind"), John Wayne c0-star Maureen O'Hara, and century-old Norman Lloyd, who ...

posted 8:00:53am Aug. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Tom Cruise Runs -- Supercut
I love this supercut of Tom Cruise's best running scenes, first because it shows the range of films he's worked in over the decades, and the different ways different directors and cinematographers shoot the scenes (and some similarities), and ...

posted 10:17:54pm Aug. 01, 2015 | read full post »

You Can Help Support This new Ed Asner Film on Indiegogo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAY_sMucKl4 Ed Asner stars in this new film about a young man who finds a book at his grandmother’s memorial, with a series of fantastical tales that his grandfather wrote for his grandmother. Each is a ...

posted 4:18:09pm Aug. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.