Desperate for publicity, old-school Vegas magicians Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carrell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) decide to spend a week locked inside a plexiglass box suspended over the Vegas strip. "Remember," advises their assistant Jane (Olivia Wilde), "all you have to do is nothing."
It's a funny line, but one also suspects it was the production motto for "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," a movie that always seems poised to deliver big laughs but, once the smoke and the pigeons clear, leaves you only with a mild chuckle or two.
The film falls squarely into the formula that Will Ferrell popularized -- let's find something dorky and look at characters who take it totally seriously -- but "Burt Wonderstone" can't decide if it wants to bury glitzy, cornball, Vegas-style magic or to praise it, resulting in a comedy that occasionally talks tough but ultimately reveals a bland, mushy center.
Our hero is introduced as an unpopular, bullied child; Lyle Workman's score goes into minor-key overdrive when poor little Albert (Mason Cook) gets beaten up on his birthday, only to come home to an empty house, a note from his working mom, a box of cake mix and one present. But ...