Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is Short on Razzle Dazzle

Plus, The Call starts strong but ends in contrivance.

by | March 15, 2013 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got dueling magicians (The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, starring Steve Carell and Jim Carrey) and a distressed 911 operator (The Call, starring Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin). What do the critics have to say?

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone


The Incredible Burt Wonderstone has such a can’t-miss premise — kitschy, arrogant magicians hit rock bottom — that it’s sad to report the critics find it less than magical, a collection of decent gags that never finds an effective rhythm. Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi star as outlandish Vegas stage magicians whose popularity is threatened by big egos, personal animosity, and the rise of a hip street magician (Jim Carrey). The pundits say The Incredible Burt Wonderstone serves up some goofy laughs, but for such an outrageous conceit, it’s surprisingly safe and predictable. (Check out our interviews with stars Carell and Olivia Wilde, as well as this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Buscemi’s best-reviewed movies.)

The Call


There’s no shortage of thrillers that create tense scenarios but can’t quite tie everything together to a satisfying whole. Such is the case, critics say, with The Call, which builds plenty of suspense before taking a problematic turn in the third act. Halle Berry stars as Jordan, a 911 operator who becomes wracked with guilt after failing to help a young woman who calls her in the midst of a home invasion. After returning to her post months later, she gets a similar call, and attempts to thwart the attacker. The pundits say The Call nicely ratchets up the tension until a key point in which credibility is seriously strained. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames for a look at Berry’s career in pictures.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Goro Miyazaki‘s From Up On Poppy Hill, an animated drama about a teenage girl attempting to save a local hangout from demolition, is at 86 percent.
  • Reality, a dark comedy about a blue-collar guy whose world is turned upside down when he appears on a Big Brother-esque reality show, is at 78 percent.
  • Spring Breakers, starring Selena Gomez and James Franco in a thriller about a group of college girls who get into trouble with a gangster while partying in Florida, is at 77 percent.
  • My Amityville Horror, a documentary in which one of the residents of the famous house tells his story, is at 70 percent.
  • Upside Down, starring Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess in a sci-fi drama about a love affair separated by time, space, and politics, is at 33 percent.
  • Reincarnated, a documentary about Snoop Dogg‘s travels in Jamaica, is at 10 percent.
  • K-11, a thriller about a man locked in a brutal corner of the L.A. County Jail, is at zero percent.

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