Steve Carell, who plays the Vegas magician named Burt Wonderstone has partnered for years with his sidekick Anton Marvelton (played by Steve Buscemi). They have grown to dislike each other intensely by being forced to work together on the Vegas stage for such a long time. Even though the pair are Vegas head-liners and almost an institution on the Vegas scene, they have let their act go stale and their audiences have significantly diminished over time. This causes the Vegas show Boss to cancel their show which makes the two magicians fight and separate, as well as it casts Burt out into the real world with no way to find another job.
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From the long-standing Vegas success, Burt had become so complacent. His expectation was that he would be treated as a Vegas super star, and this would continue forever. For example, he expects to be able to pick up a phone, any phone, and have room service delivered to his room. That perk is, of course, not longer available when Burt and Anton's show is cancelled, yet Burt does not even know how to find food, except by ordering room service. The main challenge for Burt is the magic he can perform is simply is no longer interesting. Burt goes on a path of forced self-discovery to discover the true meaning of magic and re-ignite his passion for it.
While this life crisis is occurring, a competing magician, Steve Gray (played by Jim Carrey) is a star on the rise. Gray's magic is very contemporary and very different from Burt Wonderstone's. Gray subjects himself to physical torture, in the extreme, as part of his act which is a current-day crowd pleaser. Burt watches this other magician upstage him and decides to challenge him on his own turf. Burt and Anton stage an outdoor spectacle of the kind that Gray would do. However; the effort goes horribly wrong and the two washed-up magicians look more foolish than ever. This forces Burt to adjust, and lower his standards just to get a job.
Burt finds himself in the lowly position of entertaining old folks in a nursing home with magic, as the only way to get a gig. To his surprise, at the nursing home, he meets Rance Holloway (played by Alan Arkin), who is a famous magician from long ago. Rance was the childhood inspiration for Burt; the reason Burt wanted to be a magician in the first place. Rance helps Burt get his career back on track and his priorities straight, so Burt can get back together with his life-long friend Anton and take on Gray in a final magician's showdown to see who really can put on the best magic show that Vegas has ever seen.
Best part of story, including ending:
This movie is interesting because it compares an "old school" style of magic with the more contemporary extreme styles of "street" magic.
Best scene in story:
The ending is absolutely amazing with a magical trick that is really surprising.
Opinion about the main character:
Burt Wonderstone is an ego-maniac and he deserves to be taken down a peg, but it is very nice to see that, in the end, he redeems himself.