Two March 2013 Movies That (Almost) Beat the Doldrums

They may not be perfect, but they’re worth a look

by Alison Bailes
Steve Buscemi as Anton Marvelton and Steve Carell as Burt Wonderstone
Photograph: by Ben Glass

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Just as Disney’s Oz isn’t so great and powerful, this Steve Carell comedy could hardly be called incredible. It is strictly mediocre, but the fact that it isn’t plain awful is pleasantly surprising. Carell’s Wonderstone—a laughably stereotypical Vegas showman—is a womanizing jerk who ditches his longtime stage partner Anton (Steve Buscemi) thinking he can go it alone. Cut to Wonderstone performing in supermarkets and retirement homes.

There he runs into his childhood idol Rance Holloway (a delightful Alan Arkin) and rediscovers his love of magic. It’s a formulaic plot, about as novel as pulling rabbits from a hat. Luckily Jim Carrey is on hand to spice things up as rival magician Steve Gray, a shock and awe street performer who inflicts physical harm on himself as part of his performance art (best stunt “Holding it in”—an extreme urine feat). Carrey has the zany, manic energy of old with a character that is up there with his pet detective.
 
Jack the Giant Slayer
Though the movie opened to disappointing numbers, I hope audiences will somehow discover this rollicking adventure story. I would like to point out that although it is rated PG-13, it includes some pretty gruesome and gnarly giants. Several characters meet violent ends and I would warn against small children seeing it. For everyone else, this Warner Brothers fantasy will amuse and entertain. And what else can you ask for these days with kids’ entertainment?

Directed by Bryan Singer, Jack features a script that will more than slightly recall that 1987 masterpiece The Princess Bride. Although Jack never rises to those towering heights, it does have some snarky British humor, a buffoonish villain called Roderick (a marvelous Stanley Tucci), an intrepid, beautiful princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) and a young, handsome hero (Nicholas Hoult). It also boasts a dashing turn from Ewan McGregor as the princess’s loyal knight—and some dazzling special effects.

Next: Best Road Trip Movies
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