The Great Buck Howard (2008)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  10 April 2009 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 11,369 users   Metascore: 63/100
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A young man, much to the chagrin of his father, becomes the new assistant to an illusionist in decline.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Darricarrere ...
Restaurant Manager
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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. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Get ready for the comeback of a lifetime. See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some language including suggestive remarks, and a drug reference | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

10 April 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Mente que Mente  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$115,004 (USA) (20 March 2009)


$748,363 (USA) (3 July 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The way Buck Howard finds his check at the end of his show is not the way The Amazing Kreskin (on whose career the movie is loosely based) used and still uses. The method was depicted differently probably for dramatic purposes. See more »


The scene with the mass hypnosis, supposedly in Cincinnatti, is clearly in the main lobby of the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion in Los Angeles. The banner with Placedo Domingo's name is even clearly seen hanging outside. See more »


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


References Dinah! (1974) See more »


Going Away
Written, Produced and Performed by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
See more »

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User Reviews

Malkovich has rarely been better
10 October 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"The Great Buck Howard" is a near-perfect faux biopic that will have you grinning from ear to ear for ninety euphoric minutes. John Malkovich plays the title character, an ego-driven mentalist loosely based on the Amazing Kreskin. We're told that Buck had the moniker "Great" bestowed on him by none other than the late Johnny Carson himself after the magician appeared on the Tonight Show sixty-one times in the heyday of his career. The humorously named Troy Gable (Colin Hanks) is the law student (and narrator of the tale) who takes a pass on a promising career as an attorney to serve as Buck's road manager, a move that causes great consternation for the young man's father, nicely played in a cameo appearance by Colin's real-life dad, Tom Hanks.

Part inveterate con man, part grandiose showman and part purveyor of down home wisdom and folksiness, Buck Howard turns out to be the perfect instructor for a young man eager to become wise in the ways of human nature. Howard is what P.T. Barnum would have been had he been reduced to playing smaller venues, an entertainer par excellence who really knows how to work his audience for ego-gratification and profit

  • in short, a figure as uniquely American as the lone frontiersman or

trailblazing entrepreneur. Howard probably believes only half of what he's selling, but it is that half that keeps him going in the face of declining popularity and ever-dwindling crowds. For Howard is just shy of turning into a has-been when, as if by magic, he finds himself unexpectedly mounting a full court media comeback.

A satirical and affectionate paean to the world of show biz and the bizarre creatures that inhabit it, "The Great Buck Howard" boasts a witty, flavorful script and stylish direction by the multi-talented Sean McGinly. The movie also features a lovely performance by Emily Blunt as a publicist and Troy's potential love interest, while a number of well known celebrities - John Stewart, Regis and Kathy Lee (or is it Kelly?), Conan O'Brien, George Takei and Tom Arnold among them - make brief appearances as themselves.

But it is Malkovich who grabs the material by the horns and runs with it. With his every gesture and facial expression, Malkovich turns the Great Buck Howard into a savvy combination of egotism, bravado, humility and pathos. One minute he's an impossible slave-driver, the next a paternalistic mentor - one minute a clear-eyed pragmatist, the next a dewy-eyed visionary and sentimentalist. It is Malkovich's ability to seamlessly meld all these contradictory traits into an instantly recognizable and utterly lovable character that ultimately makes "The Great Buck Howard" the richly entertaining experience it is.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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