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Don Scardino
Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde , James Gandolfini, Alan Arkin, Jay Mohr
Writing Credits:
Jonathan M. Goldstein (and story), John Francis Daley (and story), Chad Kultgen (story), Tyler Mitchell (story)


When a street magician's stunts begins to make their show look stale, superstar magicians Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton look to salvage on their act - and their friendship - by staging their own daring stunt.

Box Office:
$30 million.
Opening Weekend
$10.177 million on 3160 screens.
Domestic Gross
$22.525 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Latin Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 6/25/2013

• “Steve Gray UNCUT” Featurette
• “Making Movie Magic with David Copperfield” Featurette
• Gag Reel
• Deleted Scenes and Alternate Takes
• DVD Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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The Incredible Burt Wonderstone [Blu-Ray] (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 17, 2013)

With box office draws like Steve Carell and Jim Carrey on board, how could 2013’s The Incredible Burt Wonderstone fail? I don’t know, but fail it did, as the movie took in a surprisingly low $22 million in the US. I don’t think the flick deserved such a miserable fate, but I can't call it a neglected gem either.

Back in 1982, pre-teen Albert Weinselstein (Mason Cook) gets bullied and has no friends. After he receives a magic kit for his birthday, though, he finds his passion in life – and makes pals with fellow nerd Anthony Mertz (Luke Vanek), who becomes his partner.

Renamed “Burt Wonderstone” (Carell) and “Anton Marvelton” (Steve Buscemi), we follow them as they grow up and become a successful magic team. They headline a popular show at a Las Vegas casino – until time takes a toll on their act. Audiences prefer extreme “street magician” Steve Gray (Carrey) and they find themselves on the outs, as casino head Doug Munny (James Gandolfini) cancels their show.

Anton wants to adapt to the times, but self-centered Burt resists these changes and they split as a team. We see Burt’s attempts to deal with his declining fortunes and how he makes a comeback when he meets elderly magician Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin), the man who inspired Burt’s passion in the first place.

Going into Wonderstone, I thought it had potential. The movie came with a fun, clever premise and boasted a strong cast. What could go wrong?

Nothing, really, as I find it hard to pinpoint any fatal flaws in Wonderstone. However, that doesn’t mean I regard it as a success. At its best, this becomes a moderately enjoyable little comedy, but it never threatens to offer anything better than that.

When it succeeds, Wonderstone does so due to the cast. The script seems thin and underwritten, without much real oomph behind it. I get the feeling the writers concentrated on the basic premise and assumed the comedy would take care of itself. It doesn’t, so the film can feel flat much of the time.

The actors help elevate it, though I think Carell seems somewhat miscast – at least during the flick’s first half. During those portions, Burt comes across as a self-absorbed buffoon ala the sort of character Will Ferrell often plays. I couldn’t help but think that Ferrell would’ve been more appropriate for the part, as Carell doesn’t do “egotistical jerk” as well; he comes with a certain niceness that makes it more difficult for him to pull off such an unlikable role.

Carell fares better when Burt becomes more endearing, though, and the others support him well. The movie best comes to life in the second half, partly because Burt turns more engaging, but more because Arkin shows up in a substantial part. Arkin consistently enlivens virtually every film in which he appears, and as the now-retired magician, he delights with every turn.

Carrey also gives us a delightful spin as the “extreme” magician whose act is more Jackass than Houdini. Carrey seems to enjoy playing a supporting role, especially since the part frees him from the need to seem likable. Carrey digs into the character well and provides the movie’s single funniest moment when he gives us the best reading of “tada!” in movie history.

Despite the efforts of the cast, though, Wonderstone can’t become better than average on a consistent basis. It presents a watchable little comedy and has enough entertainment value to keep us with it for its 100 minutes. That’s the best I can say for it, though; it’s a decent diversion and not much more.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though not killer, this was usually a satisfying presentation.

The film delivered good clarity. A few shots seemed a bit on the soft side, but those were mild. Most of the film looked concise and well-defined, however. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge enhancement was absent. I also failed to detect any source flaws.

In terms of colors, the movie featured a natural palette that favored a slight golden tone. Across the board, the hues looked positive. They showed nice clarity and breadth and came out well. Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows appeared clear and smooth. I thought the movie consistently looked appealing.

While the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Wondersyone seemed fine, it didn’t excel due to a lack of ambition, which was a bit surprising given all the magic scenes. Like most comedies, the movie featured a limited soundfield that favored the forward channels. It showed nice stereo spread to the music as well as some general ambience from the sides.

Panning was decent, and the surrounds usually kicked in basic reinforcement. A few scenes opened up better, but not with much frequency. This meant that most of the movie stayed with restricted imaging, though that was fine, as it didn’t need much to fit the story.

Audio quality appeared good. Speech was natural and distinct, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, with good fidelity and no signs of distortion. Music was perfectly fine, as the score and songs showed positive dimensionality. This track was good enough for a “B-“ but didn’t particularly impress.

When we shift to extras, Steve Gray UNCUT goes for eight minutes, 33 seconds. This essentially acts as a collection of extended scenes; we see additional pieces for many of the Gray sequences. While there’s not a ton of unused footage, it’s still good to view.

A featurette called Making Movie Magic with David Copperfield lasts eight minutes, three seconds as it provides the illusionist’s take on various aspects of the movie. He discusses the Hangman trick, his deleted cameos and some other elements. It’s too bad he doesn’t explain how they did the Hangman bit, but he gives us an enjoyable chat.

Next comes a Gag Reel. In this four-minute, eight-second piece, we get some of the usual goofs/giggles, but we also find a bunch of alternate lines. That makes it worthwhile.

Finally, we get 15 Deleted Scenes and Alternate Takes. These occupy a total of 26 minutes, 23 seconds as they show additional gags and comedic bits. A few minor plot points appear – such as Burt’s visit to Anton after their break-up and Doug’s initial choice for his new headliner – but mostly we see added jokes. These tend to be enjoyable, so this becomes a nice collection.

The disc opens with an ad for Jack the Giant Slayer. No trailer for Wonderstone shows up here.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of the film. It includes the gag reel but drops the other extras.

With a fine cast and a fun premise, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone had comedic potential – and it occasionally lives up to the viewer’s hopes. However, it remains inconsistent and not as good as it could/should have been. The Blu-ray provides pretty solid picture, decent audio and a few enjoyable bonus materials. There’s enough comedy on display here to make the flick likable but it falls short of greatness.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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