The Incredible Burt Wonderstone; Small, **1/2 The Client List *** Season One DVD By: Ellis Nassour
Steve Carell of The Office (five Emmy nominations for Best Actor), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (which he also co-wrote), and Anchorman fame believes in the magic of comedy, which might be one reason he was attracted to the script for The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Warner Bros.). His best comedy is when he delivers inane dialogue in his deadpan droll. Sadly, that’s not the case here. Unlike the ads say, there aren’t lots of abracatastic moments. It’s a movie about magic, with little magic. There are moments, and you wish there were more.
With a screenplay co-written by John Francis Daley (Horrible Bosses), and direction by Emmy-winning Don Scardino, producer/director of 30 Rock for five seasons [who played Jesus in Godspell on Broadway in his youth, appeared in numerous shows, and later served as Playwrights Horizon artistic director] you might expect a genial spoof of Siegfried & Roy, David Copperfield, and Vegas’ predilection for magic entertainment. His deft touch is missing.
Carell is Burt and Emmy nominee Steve Buscemi (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire) is Anton, nerdy, friendless kids who bond, develop a love of magic, and now are top magician headliners. Burt’s all excess, over-the-top pompous, an ego maniac – heavily tanned, wigged out, and wearing mega Vegas felt onstage and designer jackets and ties off. Ala Martin and Lewis, Burt and Anton break up. Too late Burt realizes he’s lost his only real friend. Even worse, because of his behavior, you don’t feel for him. In fact, you miss Anton, who’s in Third World countries handing out magic kits to the poverty-stricken, more in need of food and clean water.
Who’s funnier than Jim Carey when eating every piece of scenery not nailed down? He’s pretty outrageous here, but not in the way you would like. Daley and co-writers forgot to write an in depth character. He has lots of swag, but what he does as an upstart shock street magician is so mean-spirited he’s unlikeable (of course, he’s meant to be). Where’s the fun if you can’t root for one of movie’s top comics?
Alan Arkin, as Burt’s mentor, has some funny bits that add much needed sparkle. Olivia Wilde provides some window dressing, just not enough. James Gandolfini would’ve been great as the sleaze casino mogul; however, all he does is growl and bark. And where does his strange voice come from?
But there are huge laughs intermittently, as when Anton hands a magic kit to a starving kid who thinks it’s food; and when he lets another kid play with his rabbit. Burt benefits from a fantastic sight gag when, down-and-out, he lowers his pride and downtown glowing with optimism only to find the casino he was banking on for a job imploding. A comedy’s in trouble when the absolute funniest moments come at the fade out. Don’t head up the aisle just yet! After Burt and Aton, reunited, do a knock-out illusion (literally!) to win back their spot on the Strip, the film’s title splashes onscreen. However, before the credits crawl, there’s a lengthy and ROTFL sequence that shows how Burt and Anton pull off the illusion. That alone is worth the price of admission!
The Client List, DVD, Season One
Jennifer Love Hewitt gets as far away from her Melinda Gordon of Ghost Whisperer, her five-season hit TV series as Riley Parks in The Client List, (Sony Home Entertainment; three discs,10 episodes; SRP $33) TV series based on a 2010 Lifetime movie of the same name that also starred Hewitt. She’s been described as having "the face of an angel and the body of a goddess." All true, but she’s also a very good actress who makes this not-exactly riveting series worth watching. Hewitt portrays a heavily-tanned loving wife suddenly deserted by her insecure husband and left to raise two kids in Beaumont, Texas. She’s a licensed massage therapist and takes a job at a seemingly traditional spa. Soon, she’s told by owner sassy owner (the divine Loretta Divine) she can make huge tips doing favors for special customers (all quite PG since she draws a line in the body oils – in fact, she becomes a sort of relationship counselor). But she’s doing things you don’t talk about to even your delightfully outspoken, oft-married mama Linette (winningly played by Cybil Shepherd) and doting brother-in-law
(Colin Egglesfield, Auggie of Melrose Place, who could pass for Tom Cruise’s twin). Riley grows stronger, more independent, and empowered as the series progresses, but for small-town Texas all-too-often dresses too provocatively showing off her much-discussed assets. The series is a huge hit among women, and no wonder with numerous hunks appearing draped with towels. Riley may be blind to the fact that her brother-in-law is madly in love with her, but you won’t be (even in his first scene); and you’d be right to wonder why the heck she chose his brother over him. Betty White makes a splash as a not-so-grieving widow mid-season. As Season One winds to its finale, a passionate "forbidden" romance finally, and not a minute too soon, develops; and shady intrigue involving the spa enters the picture. This, those hunks, and "goddess" Hewitt will have fans glued to their TVs for Season Two.
Follow Us On Facebook