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AUSTIN — “I would like to say that so far, Austin is like a beautiful woman and I want to take advantage of you,” Jim Carrey told the crowd at Friday’s South by Southwest world premiere of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone — a go-for-broke comedy in which he plays a David Blaine-style nemesis to Steve Carell‘s lion-maned, wax-chested Las Vegas magician.
Carrey then launched, somewhat inexplicably, into a rendition of The Killer’s “Human” (“Are we human? Or are we dancer?” he sang), before another of the film’s stars — Olivia Wilde, who plays a magician’s assistant in the comedy — took the microphone.
“Thank you for coming out and filling this beautiful theater,” Wilde said, scanning the packed Paramount. “We are so honored to start this festival. This [movie] represents to me what Austin represents and that is fun — a good-natured, laughing good time. So thank you for having us.”
The film’s other stars, Steve Buscemi, Alan Arkin and James Gandolfini, didn’t make it to the event, nor did director Don Scardino (30 Rock), who was unfortunately indisposed “pissing out a kidney stone,” Carrey volunteered.
Moments earlier, Janet Pierson, producer of the SXSW Film Festival since 2008, justified her choice of kick-off film in easy-to-grasp terms.
“It’s f–king hilarious,” she said.
“We should put that on the poster,” Carell later joked.
What began as a New Line property from 2006 managed to survive the studio’s 2008 merger with Warner Bros. and enter into a protracted development period.
Horrible Bosses scribes John Francis Daley — best known for playing the gawky protagonist of Judd Apatow‘s Freaks and Geeks — and writing partner Jonathan Goldstein were brought in on the project in 2011 to do a page-one rewrite.
“A hell of a lot [of research went into writing it],” Daley told The Hollywood Reporter shortly before the premiere. “Not so much for about figuring out the secrets behind tricks, but what these guys’ lives are like offstage. Living with the pressure of doing several shows a day, and living within the Vegas bubble where you’re not exposed to the outside world can actually make someone stir-crazy or egotistical.”
“As broad as the world is in the movie,” Goldstein added, “it’s not that far off from the world of Vegas stage magicians.”
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone opens in theaters on March 15.
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