• PG, 1 hr. 27 min.
  • Drama, Comedy
  • Directed By:
    Sean McGinly
    In Theaters:
    Mar 20, 2009 Wide
    On DVD:
    Jul 21, 2009
  • Magnolia


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The Great Buck Howard Reviews

Page 1 of 38

Super Reviewer

May 1, 2008
Get ready for the comeback of a lifetime.

Very good movie. More than what I expected! Nicely done, this film is funny and likable. A modern story about life dreams, the fierce entertainment industry, and the sadness that hides behind a bad temperamental person. Every well-known actor that appears in this film,even if they play short cameo roles, plays an important part. A truly heart warming movie in a bit of an old fashioned way. Go watch it!

When a law school dropout answers an advertisement to be a personal assistant he unknowingly signs on to work for a belligerent has-been magician struggling to resurrect his career. This leads to a journey across the country staging the comeback of a lifetime.

Super Reviewer

July 28, 2011
Buck Howard: I love this town! 

"Greatness is a state of mind"

I love this movie. Although, there were a few things wrong with it, such as Colin Hanks in the lead role(he's not his dad), the movie succeeds as a short charming comedy. The story or movie for that matter is nothing spectacular. It's actually quite average. But a great performance from John Malkovich and a solid supporting cast make for a great movie. 

A movie that features both Malkovich and Emily Blunt will never be completely horrible. If not for their presence alone, there is always something to take away from a movie with one of them in it. Malkovich is in my top 5 favorite actors and right now Emily Blunt is probably my favorite movie star to watch. The rest of the supporting cast such as Steve Zahn and a little role from Tom Hanks are great as well. There is also an endless supply of cameos. 

The movie is purely a fun movie that comes off as a sweet and touching little film in the end. The movie never tries to hard to make us laugh and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people don't laugh once throughout the entire movie. Obviously from the rest of the reviews, it seems I'm in the minority in liking and laughing at this one. I'm fine with others not liking this. Much like Charlyne Yi's Paper Heart, it has a small target audience. But that audience is out there.
Lewis C

Super Reviewer

June 8, 2010
"But I had learned from Buck that when you do the thing you love, somehow, magically, you find the money."

The Great Buck Howard is a slightly above average movie with an excellent cast. John Malkovich, Colin Hanks, Emily Blunt, Tom Hanks, Steve Zahn, and others all contribute to this "slightly based on a true story" movie about a traveling mentalist and a young man searching for what he wants to do in his life.

The movie is at various times sentimental, sad, and amusing. It's something that's worth a watch if you're a fan of Colin Hanks or John Malkovich, as both of them give good performances. Malkovich is an old-school entertainer who has been around for years and relives a shadow of his former glory by performing for small cities and towns across the country. Hanks is a somewhat aimless young man who just dropped out of law school and works as a road manager for Howard. Emily Blunt gets third billing as a love interest/plot device, but she also gives a fine performance.

I found myself enjoying The Great Buck Howard, though it's not an amazing movie by any means. It's a pleasant (if slightly bland) way to spend a couple of hours, though, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested.

Super Reviewer

November 21, 2010
Using my great mental abilities (debatable for sure), I sense a paper thin plot, fleshed out by a totally unnecessary plot device (provided by Emily Blunt as Hanks Jr's love interest) that hampers a typically wonderous performance by Malkovich.

As a kind of "inside" story about show business, the film works on a certain level, and the sweet ending, with its message about levels of sucess with a nod towards all those B type towns where B type talent ends up is a very nice sumnation and, for a change, a nice use of voice over narration (though I didn't much care for all the voice overs in the rest of the film).

Hanks is passable as the neer do well who quits law school and gets a job serving as "road manager" to Buck Howard - a charactor inspired by The Amazing Kreskin.

I did find it amusing that Hanks ultra famous Daddy appears as Hanks.... wait for it.... Daddy.

The film is shot in a very matter of fact way - no artsy shots, just an earnest telling of a story (except for one nice touch when Buck descends a glass and mirrored stairway at a hotel to perform his "greatest feat").

In all, I found this passably entertaining, but very obvious in its intent, and just a bit too fast and loose with the whole Blunt/Hanks quasi love/friendship thing.

Should you see this film - check your magic 8 ball - mine says "check back later".

As an aside - consider the time and place - early 60's. ESP was just becomming an en vogue thing - I actually had a box "game" called something like "develope your ESP, as guided by.... The Amazing Kreskin". What you got in the box was a brief booklet alegedly penned by Kreskin saying that everyone had a degree of ESP and could hone those skills with practice. So the box included those funny flash cards with shapes on them. Talk about exploitation!
Aaron N

Super Reviewer

March 28, 2009
Buck Howard: I love this town!

This is a very simple movie, but a likable one. Things are generally very simple when you have Collin Hanks involved and that's pretty much the case here. This is an enjoyable and nice little film about a young guy trying to find his way and an older magician trying to keep his show going.

Hanks plays Troy Gable, a guy who has decided to ditch his father's (Tom Hanks, Hey!) goal for him to become a lawyer, and instead takes a job as an assistant for "The Great Buck Howard," played by John Malkovich. Buck is an old fashioned magician, who's greatest claim to fame was having been on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 61 times. Now, Buck still travels the country, performing the same act, which is both very cheesy but also an old kind of show that has a lot of variety and some seemingly genuine magic, as his signature trick involves finding the money he is to be paid that night, which is hidden somewhere in the audience.

The film is basically about Troy's travels with Buck, who is of course an eccentric character, made even better by the fact that it's Malkovich barely containing his rage, as usual, but still in a nice guy role. The two have their quarrels, but also meet others along the way including Steve Zahn as a big fan of his. There are also supporting parts from Emily Blunt as a media consultant and love interest for Hanks, Ricky Jay as Buck's agent, and even a small part for my boy Adam Scott.

The movie is PG and only lasts about 85 minutes. It has a nice charm to it and is largely inoffensive to anyone. It's a fun watch and Malkovich is very good here.

Buck Howard: That's distilled water. I'm not an iron.

Super Reviewer

August 29, 2009
Colin Hanks, John Malkovich, Tom Hanks, Emily Blunt, Adam Scott
A young man, much to the chagrin of his father, becomes the new assistant to an illusionist in decline..
Good but not great. I really like Colin Hanks. He was really good in this movie. Loved seeing him and his father Tom Hanks work together. Would love to see them in another film, but something more of drama maybe. Emily Blunt was good. Liked her character. Just OK for me. Nothing to special besides the performamces. Would watch it just for that.
Al S

Super Reviewer

September 6, 2008
I love this guy and i love this movie even more. A wickedly hilarious and very smart comedy that delivers plenty of great laughs and smarts, John Malkovich is absolutely brillliant, giving a wonderful and very funny performance. Colin Hanks is fantastic. This is a great film. So many great laughs that you have to see it twice.

Super Reviewer

May 14, 2009
John Malkovich as a once popular mentalist (based on the Amazing Creskin) playing half-filled venues on the downside of his career. Pleasant enough comedy/drama full of familiar faces (Tom Hanks and a large number of cameo appearances by George Takei, Jay Leno, and so on).

Super Reviewer

May 6, 2009
"Get ready for the comeback of a lifetime."

A young man, much to the chagrin of his father, becomes the new assistant to an illusionist in decline.

John Malkovich is the heart of The Great Buck Howard, and he's the principal reason for seeing this slight but very enjoyable film. An entertainer whose "mentalist" act has grown stale, Buck Howard is playing to half-filled houses in small cities, far out of the show-biz mainstream. Desperate to revive the fame he enjoyed when he was a fixture on The Tonight Show -- "that's 'The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson'", as he constantly reminds everyone -- Buck concocts a new "effect" that he hopes will get him some new fans, a shot with Jay Leno, and perhaps a booking in Vegas.

Buck's comeback story is told through the observances of Troy Gable (Colin Hanks), a young man looking for a calling, who in the meantime takes a job as Buck's traveling road manager/valet/whipping boy. Troy is both fascinated and repelled by Buck's temperamental behavior and his "cheesy" act.

The movie is entirely conventional, including Troy's liaison with Buck's publicity agent (Emily Blunt), but Malkovich's take on "Buck" make this worth a look or two.
Glenn G

Super Reviewer

April 4, 2009
A film at war with itself. Is it a satire? Is it a feel-good movie? Does it have a lesson to teach or to learn? I have no idea. I enjoyed moments, but wanted to kill myself over the number of times they milked a strong handshake joke. Three times folks! THREE! Hear me! THREE is comedy! Not 35 times!!!! Despite its many many flaws, including another extremely bland Colin Hanks performance, I enjoyed John Malkovich and Emily Blunt and certain well-observed moments about a has-been/never was who puffs himself up with too much importance. But please, take the dolly away from Sean McGinly. You don't have to push in on an actor EVERY single time they are registering something "significant". Just let the moment happen for crissakes!!!!!
Jeffrey M

Super Reviewer

May 24, 2011
A fun and entertaining movie made all the more enjoyable by Jon Malkovich. A little thin on narrative and development to be sure, but charming enough to largely make up for that. Loosely based on the Amazing Kreskin.

Super Reviewer

September 19, 2010
Great film. Very funny. John Malkovich shines in the lead role. Colin Hanks as does a great job too. The film is well written and has some great dialog. Emily Blunt and Tom Hanks provide solid support in this film. I definitely recommend this film.

Super Reviewer

December 17, 2010
it was okay..
Danny R

Super Reviewer

December 25, 2009
A delightful and sweet comedy about a once famous "mentalist" named Buck Howard (John Malkovich who is a marvel in an especially sly, nuanced performance.) Who once delighted the late night shows and the small town venues, But who now is a fading relic of decades past who still thinks he is a top entertainer. We see the story through the eyes of his traveling secretary (Colin Hanks in a wonderful performance.) This is a warm funny little film with lots of heart that i throughly enjoyed, well-made and acted by the entire cast. But make no mistake about it this is Malkovich's show all the way and he is fabulous. Highly Recommended.
Alec B

Super Reviewer

August 24, 2009
The Colin Hanks portion of the story is kinda dull and predictable, however John Malkovich plays Buck Howard with such enthusiasm and really sells the character flaws and all. I really liked the idea of doing a movie about the "fringe celebrity" the kind that had the one thing that made them popular once upon a time and now they try to earn a living based on outdated popularity. Its sad but also somewhat charming. Malkovich's performance is perfect he makes the movie work, I'd even go so far as to say Oscar worthy but that probably won't happen.
Andrew F

Super Reviewer

July 31, 2009
The Great Buck Howard is a simplistic coming-of-age tale with several winning performances.
Philip P

Super Reviewer

May 16, 2009
I had never heard of The Amazing Kreskin until this film mentioned him after the final frame. While I was watching this, I simply thought there was a real Buck Howard out there somewhere. The point in me saying this, is that this film will make you interested in this mentalist, this wacky guy-and you will want to know more about him. After finding a few videos and watching the Amazing Kreskin, it is obvious John Malkovich does a great job of portraying him-and not just as a man who is lying to himself or a straight up loon, but Malkovich, instead of making fun, as it would have been so easy to do, allows this character to really make an impression upon you, and instead of laughing at him, you end up believing in him, even though he calls himself a psychic or a mentalist-these things that sound loopy and full of trickery-you know he is genuine. Malkovich is the main attraction here, and he puts on a great show. From start to finish the film is light and breezy, never getting too heavy or too dull-it is a quick film that is intersting and very fun. The film tells two stories though, the main one being about Colin Hanks character who comes to be Howard's road manager after dropping out of law school and is in the process of trying to figure out what he really wants to do with his life. It is a more common and more human story, and as Hanks, like his father, who makes a nice extended cameo as his sons father in the film, is so likeable you become just as interested in him as you are in Buck. They make an interesting pair, not exactly a buddy comedy type team, but two guys looking for different things and life that end up being aided by one another. It is, again, light, but inspiring. There are a number of supporting players like Emily Blunt, Adam Scott and Steve Zahn who only add to the fun of the whole experience and you end up wishing it was a little longer. There is nothing great or grand about Buck Howard, but it is fun and most importantly, always entertaining.
William G

Super Reviewer

November 3, 2008
Malkovich has a lot of fun as a prima donna magician whose career is on the rocks.
Sarah P

Super Reviewer

March 7, 2010
Colin Hanks was forgettable, but John Malkovich stole the show! He was excellent in this role and gave the movie comedy, but also heart.
ken j

Super Reviewer

March 16, 2009
The Great Buck Howard follows the story of a down on his luck mentalist who was once at the top of his game playing to packed houses and even appearing on tv but now he is stuck to appearng in small towns for little money and even smaller fan fare along the way he picks up a new assistant and tries one more time for that great comeback. Starring John Malkovich as Buck Howard is let loose on this film to do what he does best and also co Starring Colin Hanks and his dad Tom Hanks this movie is really worth a watch i feel its one of the more underated movies out there
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