Superstar magicians Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) have ruled the Las Vegas Strip for years, raking in millions with illusions as big as Burt’s growing ego. But lately the duo’s greatest deception is their public friendship, while secretly they’ve grown to loathe each other, in New Line Cinema’s comedy “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.”
Facing cutthroat competition from guerilla street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), whose cult following surges with each outrageous stunt, even their show is starting to look stale. But there’s still a chance Burt and Anton can save the act—both onstage and off—if only Burt can get back in touch with what made him love magic in the first place.
“It’s about this kind of dysfunctional marriage, essentially, between two friends who have been working together since they were kids, and what happens to them after it all crashes and burns,” says produer Chris Bender.
Burt wasn’t always so spoiled, notes director Don Scardino. “Magic saved his lonely life when he was a child and brought him his first and only friend,” he says. “The two of them just wanted to amaze and entertain people the way that they were amazed and enchanted by the illusions they worked so hard to master. In those early, exciting years, Burt and Anton always encouraged each other to create bigger and better tricks and worked out the fine points of each new routine together. They loved what they were doing, and audiences loved them.”
But, after climbing that ladder of success, it seems that Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton, played by Steve Buscemi, sat down on the top rung to rest on their laurels for awhile and enjoy the view. And for ten glorious years, what a spectacular view it was: the 24/7 royal treatment, from the finest restaurants and the most lavish suites, to their own namesake theater and the splashiest marquee on the Strip.
Night after night, year after year, they rolled out the same show without missing a beat, because Burt refused to tamper with perfection.
He also refused to acknowledge their steady turnover of unhappy assistants, calling every one of them Nicole, no matter their actual names, including their latest and best, the woefully under-appreciated Jane, played by Olivia Wilde. Worst of all, he stopped listening to his humble old buddy Anton, until their act settled into a rut. A velvet-draped, crystal-studded, hocus pocus rut.
At the same time, a new phenomenon was emerging in the magic biz: extreme street performer Steve Gray. Portrayed by Jim Carrey, Gray’s physical feats and gritty, in-your-face style shunned the curtains, costumes, lighting and music by which traditional shows had always been defined. Instead, he preferred to appear impromptu in a busy thoroughfare, wow a crowd and then upload the footage to a growing online fan base before his van even left the curb.
As the story opens, Gray’s irreverent hit-and-run act is drawing a larger and younger following while, not coincidentally, attendance is dropping off at The Burt and Anton Theater. Though Burt initially chooses to ignore this burgeoning threat, it does not escape the attention of his employer, aptly named casino mogul Doug Munny, played by James Gandolfini. In fact, Munny soon lays it out for his veteran headliners in no uncertain terms: they’d better come up with something new, fast, or they’re finished.
Unfortunately, what they come up with will finish them anyway.
“It’s a big, funny, touching journey with lots of surprises, and set in the world of professional magicians, which we felt was a background ripe for comedy and something that hasn’t been explored on this scale before,” says Bender. “Don struck the right mix of identifying the heart we wanted to bring out, while taking on the bolder set pieces and going full-out for the humor, plus the spectacle and showmanship of Las Vegas, where everything is larger than life. He embraced all of it.”
Opening across the Philippines on March 20, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is a New Line Cinema presentation and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.