Tag Archives: Steve Buscemi

Movie Review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is Hollywood’s latest magician movie. It’s been a while since we were wowed by “The Prestige” and “The Illusionist,” so apparently director Jay Roach wanted to get a new take on magicians. Unlike the aforementioned 2006 films, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is intended as a comedy. To that end, it has billed both Steve Carell and Jim Carrey, two of the bigger names in comedy. It also stars Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, and Alan Arkin.

 

The central character in the story is Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) one-half of a famous duo of stage magicians in Las Vegas. His partner is Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi). Together they make one of the biggest acts in Vegas. At least, in the beginning. But then, sales start to decline. An up and coming unorthodox magician by the name of Steve Grey (Jim Carrey) a.k.a. “The Brain Rapist” is threatening to capsize their operation. They have to come up with a new act, and fast. But their first idea is a disaster. So much so, they wind up dissolving their partnership. From there, the story follows Burt Wonderstone and his decline into desperation, the subsequent reshaping of his character, and his eventual reunion with Anton Marvelton leading to their collaboration on the greatest trick in magical history. There is also a love-interest angle in the story, a young assistant illusionist named Jane (Olivia Wilde), but I won’t delve into that here as it follows pretty much the standard patterns.

 

Strengths: the movie successfully showed the evolution of Burt Wonderstone’s character from self-centered, egotistical, schmuck to a reasonably decent human being who even wins the girl in the end. It was also good for a few laughs. Jim Carrey had some classic moments, particularly at the end. Weaknesses: well, although the movie was billed as a comedy and it had access to the talents of both Carrey and Carell, it wasn’t quite as funny as I hoped it would be. Like I said, there were a few moments, but not enough, in my opinion. Also, Burt Wonderstone started off as such a jerk, I didn’t think he deserved to win the girl (not that he had any competitors) in the movie. It was just silly Hollywood being stupid following the standard: boy meets girl, boy is jerk, girl is repulsed, boy reforms, and girl falls in love. Whatever.

 

Although the movie was decent, there were no great moments. Nothing that had me laughing to tears. Overall, I’ll give it three and a half out of five stars.

Movie Review: Hotel Transylvania

All right, I was in a silly, childish mood the other day and I went to see “Hotel Transylvania.” It’s an animated kid’s movie. I have to say, I enjoy children’s movies—now that I’m an adult and I don’t care what other people think when I go see a children’s movie (unlike when I was a teenager and wouldn’t be caught dead watching such a flick)…. I think that particular transformation started in college when I saw Aladdin for the first time and thought, “Hey, that’s a pretty good story.”

 

Anyway, Hotel Transvylvania. It tells the story of Count Dracula (I don’t believe it: I saw a listing of the cast on-line and Dracula was played by Adam Sandler… my mind is just trying to register that; I totally didn’t recognize his voice!), his daughter, Mavis, and her human love interest, Jonathan. Besides Sandler, there are a number of other relatively big names in the film like Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, and John Lovitz among others. Basically, Dracula has had some bad experiences dealing with humans. So, he’s set up a hotel in the middle of nowhere where he, his daughter, and all the other monsters of the world can retreat to for safety and peace. He’s started a whole business on the basis that humans are bad and lead only to terrible things. He’s raised his daughter, Mavis, in the confines of the castle; she’s basically never seen the outside world or had any interaction with any humans at all. He’s raised her and taught her one basic rule: humans are terrible and must be avoided at all costs.

 

But it is now Mavis’ 118th birthday and she, like any other vampire of such an age (I guess), wants to see the world and experience new things. She’s feeling a little cramped in the castle. And in keeping with the typical teen-parent conflict common in movies, Dracula is intent on keeping his daughter safe at home; he’s also throwing a birthday party for her. All the other monsters of the world are invited: Frankenstein, the werewolf, skeletons, zombies, and more. However, this year there is an uninvited party-crasher: the human, Jonathan, who wanders into the castle on this most momentous of nights. He meets Mavey and the inevitable happens: Jonathan and Mavey hit it off and all sorts of chaos breaks loose.

 

Criticisms: well, there is some crude humor in the film (flatulence and nose-picking related), and there’s that whole vampire-human relationship thing which is just odd if you really think about it. But this is a kid’s movie, and you’re not supposed to think too deeply about a kid’s movie. Overall, I found it thoroughly enjoyable and worth the hour and a half of time spent watching it.

 

I’ll give it four stars out of five.