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The-Incredible-Burt-Wonderstone_08The world of Las Vegas magicians is a perfect place to set a comedy. From the glittery costumes, the elaborate poses and over-the-top theatrics, it practically begs to be parodied. But do the jokes magically appear, or do they do a vanishing act?

For years Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) ruled the Las Vegas strip with a magic show that made Siegfried & Roy look understated. But their dominance of Sin City’s showrooms disappears when a David Blaine type, guerrilla street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) starts a turf was in town. His daring act makes the glitter and glitz of their show look well past its sell-by date. To stay relevant Wonderstone and Marvelton stage their own daring stunt which just may be their grand finale.

I kept waiting for “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” to pull a rabbit out of its hat and take full comedic advantage of it setting, and yet the bunny never appeared. There are gags here and there that feel completely organic to the story—the Wonderstone’s elevator is so opulent people mistake the it for his suite, for instance—but it is the main character that lets us down.

Carrell is too likable an actor to pull off Wonderstone’s egotistical, one-note womanizing act. The fake tan and mullet do some of the work, but it never feels real, and even less so when he falls into Woody Allen territory during his romantic redemption with a love interest 23 years younger. On top of that his gearshift down from narcissist to nice guy doesn’t come off as anything but generic and predictable. Nothing magical about it.

Carrey fares better. No one plays controlled chaos like Carrey and his increasingly self-aggrandizing behavior is the best thing in the movie. Of the supporting cast Buscemi and Wilde weren’t really given enough to do to make any lasting impression. They play decent, nice people and in a movie like this featuring raging egomaniacs and insane illusionists nice guys and gals do finish last.

Arkin isn’t given much to do either, although he does have a nice gag or two, but at least he remembered to pack his trademarked deadpan delivery in his bag of tricks.

“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” has the odd laugh and a likable the cast that brings a lot of goodwill with them but the film’s worst trick is how it will make much of that goodwill disappear by the time the end credits roll.

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