A-bra-da-Crap-ra – The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Dead Man Down

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The new movie The Incredible Burt Wonderstone has two messages up its sleeve. The first moral of the story is to have passion for your profession, the second is that there is no excuse for ego to get in the way of friendship. The craftiest magic trick of this star studded comedy is that it manages to betray not one, but both messages it espouses.

Steve Carell plays Burt Wonderstone one half of a duo of magicians that have a long running stage show in Vegas. But the times are changing and society wants edgier magic personified by a street magician played by Jim Carrey. Wonderstone’s ego is too big to observe that his hubris has ruined his career, his friendship, and his possibility of a fulfilling love life. He learns from a mentor to rekindle his love for magic by retapping into that childlike wonder that magic provides where anything is possible.

Good advice that this movie refuses to follow. The plot and the jokes are so formulaic and predictable that I’m quite certain they were stolen from a Simpsons episode from the late nineties. For all the lessons learned by Wonderstone about the importance of friendship the movie isn’t willing to share the title billing with his partner.

I’m left thinking The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’s sole purpose is to make last week’s movie about a magician seem like a paragon of creativity. Oz: The Great And Powerful please forgive me for being harsh on you.

A movie that surprised me in a pleasant way was Dead Man Down. Though it’s non-sensical title sounds like a Steven Seagal movie helmed by a foreign director who didn’t know English, it is instead a Colin Farrell movie helmed by a foreign director (though it would have worked just as well with Steven Seagal in it). Directed by Niels Arden Oplev, who made the Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I thought this would be another example of a talented foreign director coming to America and either through a language or culture barrier letting us down. Instead we get a B movie where the characters aren’t afraid to talk to one another and where surprises about the past are in fact surprises.

The ending gets a little rushed and contrived so the good guy can kill the forty men who wronged him in one setting. But it gave me an idea for an ending of a movie about an audience member who wants revenge on the forty producers and writers who wasted ninety minutes of his time with soulless filmmaking.

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