Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi play boyhood friends who want to perform magic after the first Steve receives a toy magic set – featuring Rance Holloway, a great magician pre-80s (Alan Arkin ) – which teaches basic tricks. The boys grow up to be Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton, and end up in Las Vegas at Bally’s headlining a magic show in their own theater.
After a few years, their show starts to get a little stale and they are further set back when street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey playing Jim Carrey) shows up doing incredibly shocking and violent acts in the streets and on his reality TV show.
The pair fights with each other and is fired by the casino owner, Doug Munny (get it), played by James Gandolfini. JG points out that their audiences have dwindled to a size smaller than their act.
The rest of the film covers their downward spiral and resurrection with the help of the magician Rance H. This happens after we follow the first Steve through a series of degrading jobs that call for a little magic.
Steve-the-first does an okay job playing the stuck-up famous magician, but Steve-the-second is better at playing the sidekick who never enjoys the big perks. JC playing Steve-the-third acts like JC in every other movie he has been in. He carves holes in his face to find the playing card picked by the person in his audience and appears to not go “number one” for a couple of weeks to set a world record. Alan Arkin, with less screen time, dominates the scenes he is in, overshadowing his younger competition. Olivia Wilde plays a stagehand that is recruited at the last minute to replace the on-stage, look-pretty, co-star. She is a magician herself and apparently a good actress. We don’t get to see her do much of either.
If you are a magic fan, you will see David Copperfield playing himself in a cameo appearance. He also helped stage and create the stunts. As far as I know Jim Carrey as Steve-the-third is still holding it in.
Rated 2.1 out of 4.0 reasons to “Wonderstone” where Penn and Teller are when you need them. ALERT: You can see this film for $10 per person in the theater. You can wait a couple of months and view it on a Red Box DVD for $1 with as many viewers as you can pack into the front room. You figure it out. It’s not magic.