Monday, September 2, 2013

It's Mexican water, Burt.

F--king magic.

Previously, that was uttered around my house only when the Lakers would beat the Celtics, but I remember one time where those two words swirled in my head for weeks. It was probably seventh or eighth grade and my friend Ke'ala had invited me to go camping with his family at the beach. We'd eat, we'd swim, we'd fish, then we'd swim some more before eating the fish. Outside of the Hawaiian setting, it was all rather ordinary. But somewhere during those days, somebody's uncle sat me down and showed me something. And that's when shit got real. And even though that set up sounds like something I might finally tell a therapist, trust me, it's much more wholesome you sick bastard. Much.

Perhaps sounding like a good idea on paper, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone dazzles in its ability to squander not only a great cast, but also a promising setup. 

Casting Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi, Alan Arkin, James Gandolfini and Olivia Wilde should have been enough, regardless. Seriously. Those actors, playing themselves, having lunch and just bullshitting about the industry would have riveted me. But an even better idea? Putting them all in a flick making fun of the aging magic industry in Vegas. But, they don't make movies on paper, do they?

Burt Wonderstone (Carell), is a moderately successful magician who hasn't innovated his Vegas show in years. The crowds are thinning, and it seems the magic biz simply ain't what it used to be. However, there's buzz around a new magician named Steve Gray (Carey), who performs his act in the streets. As the interest in Steve Gray: Brain Rapist swells, Wonderstone's boss, Doug Munny (Gandolfini) thinks it's time to reconsider the top show in his hotel. Shocking no one, Burt gets canned, and bottoms out, repeatedly failing to see how much of a douche he has become. Well, at least until he meets his childhood hero, Rance Holloway (Arkin), and slowly he regains his form. From here, well, if you're smart enough to successfully have turned on an electronic device, I'm assuming you can figure out exactly how this one ends. But...then again, you're still reading, yeah. There's that.

Speaking of that, let's use some quick redirection to make the Yays and Boos appear out of nowhere. I could go all Copperfield and trot out a hot chick and some wind machines to distract you, but instead I'll just snap my fingers over my head while I absently pound on the keyboard.

If she was a redhead, this might pass as a marmalade sandwich.

  • Olivia Wilde. No matter the role, she's a Yay.
  • The kid that played a young Buscemi was damn near perfect. Almost eerily so...
  • Gandolfini. Even in an ultimately lame flick, it was great to see the big guy one more time.
  • Even though it didn't really come off as remotely funny, I can at least appreciate the idea of getting a souvenir photo after having sex with Burt.
  • Jim Carrey's Criss Angel knock-off was great (at times). That first trick, the punch me in the face one, was the right kind of ridiculous.
  • Even though I essentially loathe the store, it was pretty funny to see Wonderstone working at Big Lots. Ugh. My wife loves that place.
  • Buscemi and Arkin. These guys deserve better, but even in a throwaway movie, these dudes still manage to deliver.
  • Okay, the thought of a trick going wrong and actually losing an entire sense is amusing. More so when it brings you down to five.
  • And finally, magic sex. Sure, at this point in my life, just typing the word sex is magical, but I did like the idea of all that slight-of-hand (together) in the bedroom. Versus, you know, regular-hand (alone) in the bathroom. That's a joke, by the way. A sad, sad joke.
Looks like someone's been hitting the gym with Carrot Top.
  • Redbox promo codes. When I get a free rental texted to me, my standards absolutely plummet. A terrible trailer and even worse reviews are no match for free and short.
  • I like Carell. A lot. But, I'm pretty sure this performance comes straight out of the Will Ferrell Guide to Playing a Cocky Misguided Douche Who Eventually Figures it Out school of acting. 
  • The coincidence of her grandmother also being at that old folks home made me want to be sawed in half. For real.
  • David Copperfield. Fine, I saw you in college (long story) and you blew my f--king mind, but regardless, every time I hear the guy speak, he simply can't help but come off as a huge dickhead. In this movie? The streak continues. 
  • Jay Mohr as Rick the Implausible. I'm only booing this because I miss seeing Mohr actually in shit. Seems like Bob Sugar needs a new agent, ironically enough,
  • And finally, the biggest Boo for a comedy, where are all the f--king laughs? Even the unintentional ones were missing in this one. Blasphemy.
So anyway, that time at the beach when I was a kid? Here's what happened: This guy, someone's uncle (which is every man in Hawai'i, oddly enough), sits us down and asks me to pick a card, any card. I choose one, the eight of clubs, and place it back in the deck. He shuffles it and begins the whole is this your card routine. Is it this one? No. This one? No. It seems to go on forever. Eventually he appears frustrated and is left with just three cards. He asks me to make a fist. I do, and he slides the remaining cards between my knuckles. And before I can figure out what the f--k is happening, he suddenly slaps my hand really hard and the cards fly out and land in the sand. Well, two of them do. The last one is still stuck between my knuckles. 

It's the eight of clubs.

Let's see you top that, Wonderstone.


  1. It would make a decent rental but that’s maybe giving it a bit too much credit for one person. Nice review M.

    1. Thanks, Dan. With zero expectations and some time to might not be the worst thing in the world. Might.

  2. I've always loved magic and this movie interests me. Shame it didn't get a cinematic release where I live. The cast is good plus the real Copperfield makes it even more attractive.

    That magic trick on the beach... you very patient waiting until 3 cards. Perhaps the guy used magic mind control on you. Hey, maybe that was even the real Burt Wonderstone in disguise!!!

  3. Holy shit, that seems like an enormous waste of a great cast. I mean how much of a talentless hack was the director? Buscemi and Gandolfini are effortlessly hilarious when playing roles like that, shame that the movie blew.

  4. Oh my God ... it's criminal to have a cast like this and make a crappy movie. And I'm very glad you clarified that what the uncle wanted to show you was a card trick. Because I have THAT kind of sick mind. Occupational hazard of being a cop's wife.