The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Warner Brothers

Rated PG-13 for profanity, sexuality, dangerous stunts and a drug-related incident.

Carrey And Carell Reunite To Make Movie Magic, Literally And Figuratively

Back in 2003, Jim Carrey was upstaged as the title character of Bruce Almighty by a scene-stealing Steve Carell as motor-mouthed tv newscaster Evan Baxter. Consequently, Carrey wasn’t even around for the sequel, Evan Almighty, a spinoff which completely revolved around Carell’s expanded role.

Well, turnabout is fair play, and a decade later, we find his titular performance overshadowed here by an inspired one on the part of a rejuvenated Carrey. Regardless, of far more import than which one’s funnier is the fact that the two have reunited, and they’re better than ever as magicians competing to outdo each other in an escalating game of one-upmanship.

Directed by Don Scardino (NBC’s 30 Rock), The Incredible Burt Wonderstone also features a stellar supporting cast comprised of Alan Arkin, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, James Gandolfini, Brad Garrett and Jay Mohr, as well as the legendary David Copperfield, CNN’s Erin Burnett and MSNBC’s Richard Wolffe in amusing cameo appearances.

The picture’s engaging premise is fairly easy to follow. Burt Wonderstone (Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Buscemi) have been doing magic tricks together since childhood, when they first teamed up to entertain their classmates. After 30 years, they’re raking in millions at Bally’s in Las Vegas where they share top billing on the marquee as “Burt & Anton: A Magical Friendship.”

Truth be told, they’ve come to despise each other, primarily because of Burt’s massive ego. As a result, the pair’s act has grown stale, giving street performer Steve Gray (Carrey) a chance to steal a little of their thunder via bizarre stunts like not blinking and not urinating for days on end.

When the newcomer captures the public’s imagination, attendance at Burt and Anton’s shows declines, and it’s not long before they feel the pressure to match Gray in outrageousness. But after Anton breaks his ankles and some ribs during their first dangerous stunt, Burt is forced to go mano-a-mano against Gray solo.

More than magic, the ensuing illusion competition contrasts Carrey’s over-the-top antics with Carell’s relatively droll, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, with the former’s sight gags bowling me over way more than the latter’s dry wit. A battle of competing comedy styles won hands-down by the rambunctious, rubber-faced run-a-muck!

 

Excellent (3.5 stars)

Running time: 100 minutes

 

 

Dead Man Down

Film District

Rated R for sexuality, violence and pervasive profanity.

Revenge-Minded Neighbors Enter Pact In Convoluted Thriller

Grief-stricken Lazlo Kerick (Colin Farrell) never recovered from the gruesome murder of his wife (Beata Dalton). It came on orders from a vicious mob boss intent on preventing her from testifying in court. Amoral Alphonse Hoyt (Terrence Howard) also had the couple’s only child (Accalia Quintana) slain in her sleep, which left the disconsolate widower with nothing to live for except sweet revenge.

So, Lazlo changed his name to Victor, assumed a new identity, and infiltrated the ranks of the ruthless gangster’s crime syndicate. But rather than pouncing at the first opportunity, he opts to toy with his prey by playing a mind-bending game of cat and mouse. He starts by killing one of Hoyt’s favorite henchmen (Aaron Vexler), stuffing the corpse in the gangster’s freezer with a cryptic message (“719, now you realize”) clutched in its hand.

The plot thickens when Victor’s felonious activities are observed by a neighbor (Noomi Rapace) whose high-rise, Manhattan apartment sits directly across the courtyard from his. Instead of calling the cops, embittered Beatrice blackmails him into helping her even the score with the drunk driver responsible for her badly disfigured face.

The two terminally-haunted anti-heroes proceed to forge an unholy alliance in the name of the God of retribution prior to dispensing a particularly grisly brand of vengeance all around a New York City that looks more like Philadelphia. I’ve lived in both cities, so it was a little weird to see Philly being passed off as The Big Apple.

Because he’s from Sweden, director Niels Arden Oplev must have naively figured that nobody would notice the urban switcheroo. But misattributed locales aside, Dead Man Down is a decent payback flick featuring all of the staples of the gruesome, high body-count genre.

Oplev certainly knew what he was doing in tapping Noomi Rapace to play Beatrice, since he had already cast her as a similarly-tortured soul in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Though the wheels gradually come off the increasingly-preposterous production, all is forgiven on account of the convoluted adventure’s compelling storyline, arresting special f/x, and satisfying, if farfetched resolution.

The Girl with the Vigilante Agenda!

 

Very Good (3 stars)

In English, French, Albanian and Spanish with subtitles

Running time: 110 minutes

 

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening March 15, 2013

The Call (R for violence, profanity and disturbing content). Crime thriller about a veteran 911 operator (Halle Berry) who gets a shot at redemption when she’s forced to confront a killer from her past after taking a call from a desperate kidnap victim (Abigail Breslin). With Morris Chestnut, Michael Imperioli, David Otunga and Michael Eklund.

 

Blancanieves (PG-13 for violence and sexuality). Silent version of a classic fairy tale, set in the 1920s, reimagines Snow White (Angelina Molina) as a bullfighter being rescued from a wicked stepmother (Maribel Verdu) by a half-dozen tiny toreadors. Ole, Sneezy! With Pere Ponce, Daniel Gimenez Cacho and Macarena Garcia. (In Spanish with subtitles)

 

Clip (Unrated). Rebel without a cause saga, set in the suburbs of Belgrade, revolving around a wayward teen (Isidora Simijonovic) who copes with her horrible home life by drinking, doing drugs and have sex with a disrespectful classmate (Vukasin Jasnic). With Sanja Mikitisin, Jovo Maksic and Monja Savic. (In Serbian with subtitles)

 

Crazy & Thief (Unrated). Surreal fantasy, set in Brooklyn, about a seven-year-old girl (Willa Vy McAbee) who takes her two-year-old brother (John Huck McAbee) on a search for a time machine located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Support cast includes Gregory Cook and Graham Stanford.

 

From Up On Poppy Hill (PG for mature themes and incidental smoking). Animated family adventure, set in 1964, about a group of school kids’ attempt to save their clubhouse from a wrecking ball to make way for the Tokyo Olympics. With voice work by Gillian Anderson, Masami Nagasawa and Keiko Takeshita. (In Japanese with subtitles)

 

Ginger & Rosa (PG-13 for profanity and disturbing material involving teen sexuality, drinking and smoking). Elle Fanning and Alice Englert co-star in this coming-of-age drama, set in London in 1962, revolving around the test of two teens’ lifelong friendship at the dawn of the sexual revolution. Cast includes Annette Bening, Oliver Platt and Christina Hendricks.

 

I Killed My Mother (Unrated). Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan wrote, directed and stars in this semi-autobiographical, dysfunctional family drama about a gay teenager’s strained relationship with his single mom (Anne Dorval). With Francois Rimbaud, Suzanne Clement and Patricia Tulasne.

 

K-11 (Unrated). Jailhouse drama about a powerful record producer (Goran Visnjic) who awakens behind bars after a drug-induced blackout to find himself sharing a cell with a transsexual diva (Kate Del Castillo), a transgendered teen (Portia Doubleday) and a predatory child molester (Tiny Lister). Support cast includes Jason Mewes, P.J. Byrne and D.B. Sweeney.

 

Philip Roth: Unmasked (Unrated). Reverential retrospective about the life and career of the legendary author of Portnoy’s Complaint, including interviews with the Pulitzer Prize winner, as well as reminiscences by Mia Farrow, Jonathan Franzen and Martin Garbus.

 

Reincarnated (R for profanity, sexuality and pervasive drug use). Rastafarian mockumentary has Snoop Dogg traveling to Jamaica where he changes his name to Snoop Lion before trying to reignite his career as a reggae artist. Featuring appearances by Dr. Dre, Bunny Wailer and Damian Marley.

 

Spring Breakers (R for profanity, nudity, drug use, graphic sexuality and pervasive violence). Crime comedy about four bored college coeds (Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) who become beholden to a drug dealer (James Franco) when he bails them out of jail after a restaurant robbery gone-bad. With Heather Morris, Cait Taylor and Lauren Vera.

 

Upside Down (PG-13 for violence). Sci-fi romance about a young man (Jim Sturgess) who embarks on a perilous intergalactic trek to reunite with the love of his life (Kirsten Dunst) a decade after they were separated as teens on twin planets being pulled in opposite directions. With Timothy Spall, Agnieshka Wnorowska and Neil Napier.

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