6.5/10
12,877
48 user 80 critic

The Great Buck Howard (2008)

PG | | Comedy, Drama | 10 April 2009 (USA)
Trailer
2:37 | Trailer

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

Director:

Sean McGinly

Writer:

Sean McGinly
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Malkovich ... Buck Howard
Colin Hanks ... Troy Gable
Emily Blunt ... Valerie Brennan
Ricky Jay ... Gil Bellamy
Steve Zahn ... Kenny
Tom Hanks ... Mr. Gable
Griffin Dunne ... Jonathan Finerman
Debra Monk ... Doreen
Adam Scott ... Alan Berkman
Patrick Fischler ... Michael Perry
Wallace Langham ... Dan Green
Jonathan Ames ... Edward Kelly
Jacquie Barnbrook ... Sheila Heller
Paul Darricarrere Paul Darricarrere ... Restaurant Manager
Terry Scannell Terry Scannell ... Kip
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 April 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Mente que Mente See more »

Filming Locations:

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$115,004, 22 March 2009, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$748,363, 5 July 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Las Vegas scene was filmed in Hollywood on the same set that was used for the Palace Hotel Ballroom scene in The Blues Brothers (1980). See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Buck Howard: Troy you can bring that, and... toss my salad when you get back to the hotel.
See more »

Connections

References Late Show with David Letterman (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Tonite Show with Jay Leno
Written and Performed by Branford Marsalis
Courtesy of NBC Studios, Inc.
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User Reviews

Not Great . . .
3 April 2009 | by jdesandoSee all my reviews

The Great Buck Howard is not a great movie, but it is sometimes a sweet movie. Deliberately pushing the nostalgia button, the film bathes in the lost star power of a once famous "mentalist" Buck Howard (John Malkovich), who best represents the simple days of magicians like the Amazing Kreskin (the inspiration for Buck's character). As with Kreskin, Buck once delighted the late night shows, Vegas venues, and small towns such as Akron, Ohio.

Troy Gable (Colin Hanks) drops out of law school to become a writer (his uninspired voice over narration notwithstanding), but first he becomes Howard's assistant, much to the chagrin of his father (Tom Hanks—yes, that Hanks and that real-life father). Troy gets plenty of material from his boss, a dime-store vaudeville diva who yet displays a self confidence and pride to help the most cynical of us see the need to push on in the face of adversity, not the least of which is becoming passé.

Along the way we might learn a thing or two about professional integrity, true grit, and the possibility of love in all the odd places. Troy seems to learn those lessons although Hanks so underplays it's hard to tell. Director Sean McGinly apparently can't coax anything more than dimpled smiles from Hanks, whose similarity to his dad is both physical and temperamental. "Bland" is another word that comes to mind although I found the younger Hanks more animated on the London stage.

More passionate is publicist Valerie Brennan (Emily Blunt, reminding us of egos in Devil Wears Prada), with whom Troy must work and love. But, hey, even Malkovich underplays for this one, although his aging egotist is still impressive with the actor's patented impatience and theatrical outbursts. It's just that the underwhelming script doesn't allow the principals to rise above clichés, and the framing device of the relationship between narrator and mentalist goes nowhere (As it didn't for Gatsby's Nick either, I suppose).

It's a small world of small town vaudeville, fading but eloquent about talent and the need to be who you really are. Not easy, that.


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