Hollywood seems obsessed with capturing the concept of innocence on film—check out the lackluster and, at its core, cynical Oz the Great and Powerful—and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is no exception. The idea is that through magic, adults can reclaim the innocence of their youth. Unfortunately, thanks to uninspired performances and a terrible script, Wonderstone takes that innocence, locks it in the trunk, and drives it into a lake.
Steve Carell plays the titular Burt Wonderstone—an incredibly egotistical Vegas magician who, with his “magical friend” and partner Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi), finds his popularity threatened by a Criss Angel–like street magician (Jim Carrey). So Wonderstone sets out to devise a showstopping new trick—but complicating matters are a script that was apparently written by a bucket full of baby tears and leukemia, and performances that have less in common with comedy than they do with Sarah McLachlan’s pet-adoption commercials (or those ads featuring babies with cleft palates, if you prefer).
Besides heralding Steve Carell’s most unbelievable, unfunny performance ever, and besides Steve Buscemi being 127 years too old for his role, and besides there not being any actual “magic” performed (other than the occasional children’s trick), and besides the most thankless parts being assigned to women (poor Olivia Wilde and Gillian Jacobs), and besides each joke being telegraphed at least 20 to 30 seconds in advance, at least we can rely on Jim Carrey to gamely squeeze out the only two laughs in the entire production—though rest assured, he added these jokes himself, without any help at all from the script, which is currently waiting in line at Walgreens to pick up its prescription for Paxil.
Magic (and the innocence that accompanies it) most certainly is a dying art, and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is doing its part to finish the job—by smothering it. (With a pillow, if you prefer.)