First Hit: Not very interesting, few laughs (except at the end) and difficult to care about the characters.
As much as the film tried to have the audience care about Burt (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) because they were picked on as kids, it never worked.
Watching their schmaltzy act in Las Vegas, I couldn’t see where anyone would come and see their act. Maybe if the acts were better, or maybe if there was another reason to care about them, it might have made a difference. But when watching a film and thinking “maybe if” to change the plot, there becomes the realization that there is something wrong.
The film picks up, especially in the absurdity arena, when Jim Carrey is introduced as Steve Grey a street magician who does very odd things including not going to the bathroom for an extended period of time – magic? Don’t think so but it is amusing.
For me the funniest bits were the scenes where they show moving audience members in and out of the theater.
Carell’s role was mediocre and he did his best with it. Buscemi was a little more interesting as Anton. Carrey was much more engaging in a very bizarre role – he was perfect for it. Olivia Wilde was OK in her limited and strangled role as magician’s assistant. Alan Arkin as old time magician Rance Holloway was the best part of the film from an acting point of view. Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daley wrote a week script that could really find something to focus on so that the audience would care. Don Scardino did an adequate job of directing this poor script.
Overall: Waiting 90 minutes for the funniest parts (for me) was a waste of my time.