burtDisappearing Act
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Stars: Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, James Gandolifini, Jay Mohr and Gillian Jacobs
Director: Don Scardino
Scriptwriters: Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daley
New Line 
Rating: PG 13 for mock violence
Running Length: 100 minutes
At the beginning of this movie, when a kid is being bullied and finds comfort in the gift of a magic set, I thought he would grow up to take revenge on the bullies. Not to be in this comedy about dueling magicians, because the kid grows up to be a magician and emotionally leaves the rest of the world behind….for awhile, anyway. 
Steve Carell stars as Burt Wonderstone, magician elite, who gained his ambition for magic from watching a video by his hero, Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin in another scene-stealing role). How he gets the video is a gentle jab at parenting. Burt’s friend and sidekick is Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi). They form a magic duo of ideas and complex tricks that takes them to a prime spot on the Las Vegas Strip. Alas, Burt becomes jaded and weary of his fame, but beware, as a New Age magician is in town, Steve Gray (a muscular Jim Carrey) who believes, not in magic tricks, but torturing his body by sleeping on hot coals, as a new form of magic. It becomes squirm time. Burt and Anton have a falling out (in more ways than one), they lose their loyal assistant, Nicole (Olivia Wilde) and the act breaks up. Anton disappears for years while Burt goes downhill into entertaining patients at a nursing home. Humility is slowly creeping into his heart, but the specter of Steve Gray’s ever-present gruesome acts is there and through a series of events, Burt and Anton meet again, and with Nicole, begin a new act. Steve Gray, watch your back.
The humor in this film comes from the sight gags of which there are many. This film is gentler than you would think with the comedians involved, and though Carrey is hyper at times, it goes with his role as a man on the edge. Carell plays Burt laid-back, as life pushes him downward into cheap motels, but he always travels with his rabbits and pigeons. Buscemi is the awkward one, never seeming to quite fit in, as shown in his travels to Thailand on a magic junket. Alan Arkin, as Rance Holloway, comes close to his character in “Argo,” but no four-letter words here. The pleasant surprise is Olivia Wilde, as Jane (always called “Nicole” by Burt), who loves magic, but is overlooked by the big stars. Her comedy timing is very good.
Las Vegas is also a star in this movie, that pokes fun at magicians with their own theaters (you know who), and businessmen who just keep building one hotel after another. The people who really make Vegas are the working people who go there for vacations and to relax. What do Vegas people really think of their bread and butter as shown here? Illusions are everywhere.
Copyright Marie Asner 2013
For more comedy film reviews see the following at Phantom Tollbooth:
21 Jump Street starring Channing Tatum
10 Years starring Channing Tatum

Frankenweenie animated film, nominated for an Academy Award

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