The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
A good magician knows how to make his audience look in one direction when he is performing the trick in the other.
This kind of subtle sleight of hand is not exactly in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone‘s bag. However, the movie has an obvious passion for the world of magic and the enthusiasm is contageous, creating a trick that the audience doesn’t totally believe in and doesn’t totally get, but they are willing to suspend disbelief.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is sort of like a little kid who got his first magic set and wants to do a show. The tricks have mostly been seen before and they are done somewhat awkwardly, but the kid is working so hard to please us and so obviously is thrilled by what they are doing that we really, really want to give them the benefit of the doubt, even when you can see the coin slipped between the fingers.
The magic kit reference is only partially coincidental here. Two kids with a magic set figure into the flashback that opens the film. Burt and Anton are two young kids in a small suburb, nerdy kids who have few friends and are regularly attacked by bullies. When Burt receives the kit sold by magician Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin), the two kids bond over a mutual love of illusion.
Fast forward thirty years. Burt (Steve Carell) and Anton (Steve Buscemi) are now famous magicians who have a sold-out residency at a swanky Vegas hotel. However, after all these years of working together and doing the same exact show night after night, they have become bored and started getting on each others’ nerves. The audiences have picked up on their apathy and started to tune out. Suddenly empty chairs are more and more common in the Burt and Anton theater.