*1/2 (out of four)
Carell’s leading-man wins (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Date Night,” “Crazy Stupid Love”) still can be counted on one tripod after “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” an example of what happens when writers have minimal knowledge of or interest in their subject. Written by Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daley of the likewise mediocre “Horrible Bosses” (which soon will get a sequel, hooray), “Burt Wonderstone” stars Carell as the tanned, egotistical title magician, whose adolescent enthusiasm vanishes after 10 years of headlining at Bally's in Vegas. His partner and best friend Anton (
Of course, “Wonderstone” takes its audiences for fools, so maybe it's a moot point.
With nothing (positive) to say about this bizarre world, Goldstein, Daley and first-time feature director Don Scardino (“30 Rock,” “Law and Order”) lazily wander away from an early, promising notion of Burt's lifelong need for acceptance. The filmmakers also establish no legitimate competition, suggesting that Burt's rival, Steve Gray (Carell's “Bruce Almighty” co-star
The movie struggles to find a reason why someone would love an arrogant jerk like Burt—the unenviable task falls on
You can make awesome comedy out of bad magic, proven by the hapless determination of Gob Bluth (Will Arnett) on “Arrested Development.” With a few exceptions, though, legitimate heart rarely comes in a mean-spirited box. The show in the hopelessly stale, shorter-than-it-feels “Burt Wonderstone” didn't need to go on, but it does. And on and on and on.
Watch Matt on "You & Me This Morning," Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U