Film review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (15)
Steve Carell manages something he hasn't in ages – to be funny – in this amiable and chucklesome comedy of warring stage magicians.
He plays the arrogant, perma-tanned Burt, one half of a Las Vegas magic act with Anton (Steve Buscemi), friends since boyhood but now fraying badly and losing audiences by the score. Their spangled, tacky showmanship looks ever more outmoded next to the edgy street performance of Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) who specialises in endurance stunts, the more grotesque the better: lying on hot coals, drilling a hole through his head etc.
In an attempt to keep up – and to appease their increasingly disaffected casino employer (James Gandolfini) – Burt and Anton try the David Blaine trick of inhabiting a glass box raised on high, with predictable consequences. The script (by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley) doesn't play many variations on the fall-from-grace story of showbiz losers, and yet it maintains a winning flow of laughs.
One superb sequence has Burt flailing through his act solo after his split from Anton, unable to adjust to the fact that Anton's not there, so entrenched is their routine in his head. Carrey, also funnier than he's been in ages, does a weirdly demented schtick while on that bed of coals, alternately snoring and screaming.
Best of all is Alan Arkin as old-school illusionist Rance Holloway, whose tricks first inspired Burt as a youth. His criticism of his pupil's decline is wonderfully succinct – "Your patter is boring and sad. You've got no joy in yourself" – and his withering looks of disapproval are a little masterclass on their own. It's daft, and charming.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
- 2 Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
- 3 Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
- 4 iPhone 5c to be discontinued, no iPhone 6c to replace it
- 5 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
These Harry Potter lipsticks are sparking all sorts of controversy with Hogwarts fans
Game of Thrones season 6: Director promises most exciting premiere yet 'starts off with a bang'
Hunted: Channel 4 to test 'surveillance Britain' by taking Big Brother to sinister new lengths
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs