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The Great Buck Howard (2008)



Average Rating: 6.4/10
Reviews Counted: 93
Fresh: 66 | Rotten: 27

By turns fluffy and biting, this show biz comedy is given girth by comic heavyweight John Malkovich and made all the more charming by Emily Blunt.


Average Rating: 6.3/10
Critic Reviews: 31
Fresh: 21 | Rotten: 10

By turns fluffy and biting, this show biz comedy is given girth by comic heavyweight John Malkovich and made all the more charming by Emily Blunt.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 31,961

My Rating

Movie Info

A young man on his way up hitches his wagon to a middle-aged star on his way down in a comedy from writer and director Sean McGinly. Troy Gable (Colin Hanks) is a guy in his early twenties who has dropped out of law school and is pondering his next move. Troy has an interest in working in the entertainment business, and when he learns that a "celebrity performer" is looking for a personal assistant, Troy thinks he's found the ideal entry-level position. Troy soon discovers he's landed a job as a


Drama, Comedy

Sean McGinly

Jul 21, 2009


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All Critics (94) | Top Critics (31) | Fresh (66) | Rotten (27) | DVD (1)

This is not a rare movie, but it does have a warm red center. It's likable, and its appeal grows as it recovers from a shaky start and finds its footing.

April 9, 2009 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A pleasant enough comedy in the My Favorite Year mold.

April 8, 2009 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A modest snapshot of a performer.

April 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film feels painfully thin.

April 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Newsday
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Buck Howard is Malkovich's show. When's he's off the screen, the film sputters, but while he's on-camera, it's magical.

March 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie, which was written and directed by Sean McGinly, is consistently good as long as it centers on Buck and his seriocomic travails.

March 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a light, weightless, mostly pointless show business homage, and you're likely to forget it about it halfway through.

June 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin

Malkovich's titular mentalist is the primary focus of attention%u2014and sadly the source of many of the film's unique problems. In a career of strange performances, Malkovich turns in a true curiosity here%u2014and maybe it's because he is not, for once,

August 8, 2009 Full Review Source: indieWIRE

The problem isn't so much in the film's clumsy, hand-holding narration, or in its forced quirkiness. Rather it's that its most interesting character -- the one they named the thing after -- isn't the main character.

July 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune | Comment (1)

A slight yet satisfying show-biz tale.

April 22, 2009 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

By no means a great film, but it makes up in modest pleasantness what it lacks in weightiness.

April 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Sleight of hand is among a magician's greatest assets, but even the most gullible rubes will be able to follow most of writer-director Sean McGinly's telegraphed moves in this agreeable but lightweight film...

April 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

...a charming, pleasantly diverting movie that is hard to dislike.

April 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Inspired by the Amazing Kreskin, it's a poignant, gently satiric portrait of the utter desperation of a fading celebrity.

April 4, 2009 Full Review
SSG Syndicate

This moderately entertaining film would have been a lot more entertaining had the charismatic, exceptionally talented Emily Blunt been given a much larger role.

April 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Tolucan Times
Tolucan Times

While arguably sweet and charming, The Great Buck Howard is memorable only because of his sleight of hand.

April 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Malkovich expertly starts the relationship between his character and the audience on several wrong feet before winning us over.

April 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

A good comedy with jokes and nostalgia for the whole family and tasteful subject matter. But it would have been as good or better without the Hanks father-son team.

March 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Monsters and Critics
Monsters and Critics

Watching The Great Buck Howard is like listening to 'Chopsticks' played really well. Impressive, maybe, but who cares?

March 27, 2009 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

A delightful drama about a seasoned mentalist who has seen better days and yet can still engender genuine wonder in the minds of his audiences.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

The heart of the film is all about finding life's element, better yet, a way to put yourself into your life's element, despite pressures to be somewhere or something else.

March 25, 2009 Full Review Source: Hollywood Report Card
Hollywood Report Card

Audience Reviews for The Great Buck Howard

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.
March 17, 2012
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

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.
July 28, 2011
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

"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.
February 9, 2011

Super Reviewer

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!
November 21, 2010
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

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