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John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein talk “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” “Horrible Bosses 2” and the upcoming “Vacation” remake


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John Francis Daley, the former “Freaks and Geeks” star turned “Bones” actor and movie scribe, can’t really do any magic tricks — “save for one where I can make it look like my middle finger is coming off, because I’m double jointed.” As for his screenwriting partner Jonathan Goldstein (“Horrible Bosses”), he can do two card tricks and one coin-disappearing trick, “in a terrible, terrible way.” But that didn’t stop the two of them from taking a crash course in magic, illusions, and other trickery for “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.”

Daley and Goldstein had been working on their own version of a Vegas magician comedy when New Line came calling, only their version was “more supernatural.”

“We had been wondering why there wasn’t a comedy yet about a Vegas magician,” Goldstein said. “So we went to Vegas, like ‘The Hangover.’ Only what happens there, stays there.”

“We also went to the Magic Castle,” Daley said, “which is the nerd heaven for magic in the best possible way. It’s the closest thing to the magic bar that Burt, Anton, and Rick the Implausible frequent in the movie. So we learned a lot of secrets there.”

Some magicians became more active consultants, such as Penn Gillette and David Copperfield (who cameos in the film and helped developed the movie’s pivotal “Hangman” illusion to be shot on film in one take without any cuts necessary). And when Gillette kept coiling a napkin about his finger while talking to them, as if he were doing so absentmindedly, Daley kept waiting for a trick to happen in front of them. (He ended up being disappointed).

“These people are so secretive about their material,” Daley said, “because it’s a very competitive world, and some of them risk their lives every day when they do certain illusions, like the bullet catching illusion, although telling us that they’re risking their lives might be part of the trick, too. So we didn’t really focus as much on their secrets as the secrets behind their lives.”

“They’re really isolated in this bubble because they have no time to do anything but rehearse and perform,” Goldstein said.

Daley and Goldstein performed a trick of their own, of sorts, by creating a role for Steve Carell in which he would have to wax his body hair — again. (“That’s the main reason to do this movie!” Daley laughed). And they were grateful that Jim Carrey created an illusion with the character they created for him (a blend of David Blaine and Criss Angel). Steve Grey (“the Brain Rapist”) isn’t as much of a conjurer as an endurance specialist, and Daley and Goldstein were intrigued by the idea of him being a “low key villain, but not openly malevolent.” Carrey turned Steve Grey into more of a “messianic figure,” coming up with a whole new look for the street magician and then disappearing into him.

“It was his idea to do the body tattoos,” Goldstein said. “He even drew a picture of the bunny skull and he gave it to the cast and crew as temporary tattoos during production.”

Next up for the Daley-Goldstein team is directing a remake of “Vacation,” starring Ed Helms, in which he would play a grown-up Rusty. “It’s in the spirit of the best of what John Hughes did,” Daley said of the pair’s script. “There will be emotion and you will hopefully care about the characters and their fun mishaps, including another road trip to Wally World.” That, and other homages to the original, are what makes the project “exciting” for the duo. “We’ve been playing it out in our heads,” Goldstein said, “catching up with the characters, and going for the darkest possible reveal.”

Daley and Goldstein said that they’re in talks for both Chevy Chase and Anthony Michael Hall to make appearances in the “Vacation” remake. “Our hope is to have some people back from the original,” Goldstein said. “There will definitely be characters from the original in this, but we do want it to be its own movie.” (And don’t expect cameos from the two in this one, despite popping up in “Wonderstone” as paramedics and stage managers: “We’ll probably stay behind the camera this time,” Daley said.)

Soon to follow will be “Horrible Bosses 2,” which is several drafts into the scripting phase. Just as in the last round, expect several stars to play against type as Jennifer Aniston and others did before. “They don’t have to make a big commitment,” Goldstein said. “They just come in, and it’s not a huge part. But whoever it is, they can come in and go out many nights past their bedtime, and have a lot of fun murdering people — at least on camera.”

Which upcoming Daley and Goldstein project are you most excited for? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.


Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…