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Incredible Burt Wonderstone, The


Stars: Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, James Gandolfini, Jay Mohr, David Copperfield

Director: Don Scardino

There's quite a bit of magic in more ways than one here, in a film that puts to rest the idea that you can't make an entertaining movie about those showbiz folk who produce rabbits out of hats and saw ladies in half. The UK comedy team of Mitchell and Webb laid a pretty big egg in this department with Magicians in 2007, but Carell (in the title role) and company bring the trick off in some style here.

We meet Albert Weinzelstein as a much-bullied, wide-eyed kid who, given a magic set sponsored by in-entertainer Rance Holloway (Arkin), is drawn into the conjuror's world and forms a sleight-of-hand partnership with his nerdy friend Anton.

As adults, a super-confident Burt (Carell) and Anton (Buscemi) are taken on by Vegas hotelier Doug (Gandolfini - one of several wig-wearers here) and soon become the talk of the town.

A decade later, even with a new stooge (Wilde), the act has gone stale, and finds itself out in the cold after street magician Steve Gray (a manic Carrey) hits town with his on-the-edge 'brain rapist' act that involves cutting his cheek open to produce the playing card of choice.

This is fizzing fun right from the start, with extravagant characters (and wigs) and concentration on real magic tricks. Although debutant director Scardino (a former actor) loses the pace a bit in the latter half, he picks it up again for a riotous ending in which a split-and-then-reunited Burt and Anton (shades of the Martin-and-Lewis comedy The Stooge) plan to make an entire audience disappear. No chance of that happening to you if you watch this happy, diverting and often witty entertainment.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
100 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 09 Mar 2013