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You think you've failed at life? Buck Howard will show your path
la_fleur30 May 2009
Houdini was once approached by a student who told him, "I know hundreds of card tricks, how many do you know?" Houdini replied, "Five, and I have dedicated my entire life to learning how to entertain an audience with them".

Buck Howard is a dried up celebrity struggling for his last gasp of fame. Almost forty years ago, Johnny Carson gave Buck Howard the title "The Great Buck Howard" and it stuck. Unfortunately, those years have left their mark and Buck is no longer 'Great'. Despite his tired jokes, sappy piano clap-along songs and magic acts he manages to attract small crowds at far-flung venues in the middle of America. The performances are always "One Night Only", as there would never be enough seat-fillers for a second. So what is exactly that keeps him going?

Colin Hanks plays Troy Gable, a law school dropout looking for a detour to finally get the answer to what he is meant to do in life. Will be able to counsel him a unbalanced magician -or mentalist-?

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.

It's quite a gentle, unusual comedy, so morals behind this movie are hard to get. However, this is a good film worth watching and definitely should be shown as an example of outstanding acting from Malkovich to Star Trek actor George Takei.
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Enjoyable story about "B" celebs
stuprince8 March 2009
This could be the story about so many "B" level celebrities, and is based on the life story of the "Amazing Kresken," The Great Buck Howard tells us that once you enter the field of entertainment, you might do anything to stay on top.

Buck Howard (played wonderfully cheesy by John Malkovich) is a "mentalist" who was popular on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show," appearing 61 times. He is a classic 70s Vegas magician, doing fascinating tricks and metal feats of amazement. In all, he is a relic of decades past, entertainment without special effects and he still seems to think he is on top of the entertainment world.

Howard's career has has hit near the bottom, performing in such hotbeds as Bakersfield, CA and Akron, OH in front of partially filled small auditoriums. Still, he see's himself as a big time entertainer that is just not getting the break he needs to get back on top (much of which he blames on Jay Leno), in many ways he is a sad individual and does not get that the only people who enjoy him are almost as sad as him.

The story is told through the eyes of his traveling secretary, played by Colin Hanks, who is, himself, struggling with issues. He is battling his desires to become famous with his fathers (played by his real dad Tom Hanks)wish he become a lawyer. since he has no real talent (other than writing)he is breaking into entertainment the only way he sees possible.

This is a charming film, not something for those looking for action, a major love story (a minor one occurs between Colin and the beautiful Emily Blunt (best known as the 1st assistant in The Devil Wears Prada), or some major personal victory, although in the end, Howard does find what makes him happy.

This is a movie that likely describes the life of many "B" entertainers that are seeking to stay in a limelight that has moved away from them. it is simple and enjoyable.
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Enjoyable all-ages movie
I just saw this movie at SIFF. It was well-cast and entertaining. Colin Hanks, Adam Scott, and John Malkovich were especially enjoyable to watch. It is a comedy, but it was written and performed in such a way that I cared about the characters. It was funny and interesting so time flew because I was engaged in the plot. It is appropriate and appealing to a wide age range, and I would have felt comfortable going with my grandmother or my 12-year-old cousin. I especially recommend this movie to families or couples who are just getting to know each other because it will give you something to talk about afterward without ever making you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. It is not action packed but if you enjoyed "Lars and the Real Girl" or "Little Miss Sunshine," you will probably like "The Great Buck Howard."
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I Loved This Movie!!!!
J_Trex26 March 2009
This was a very good comedy, well written and acted. The dialog was witty, the plot kept the pace going, and the character development was very good. Buck Howard (John Malkovich) is an "Amazing Kreskin" type magician who hires an assistant named Troy (Colin Hanks)to help him out while on the road, playing small venues in small towns. Troy is a law school dropout who decides to pursue a career in show business, against the wishes of his father (played by Tom Hanks in a brief role). Buck Howard had been a bigger star in the past, playing on Johnny Carson 61 times, but recently had been down on his luck.

Troy tells the story (Nick Carraway like) of Howard's life on the road, his unlikely comeback, and his fall back to earth. Along the way, we are introduced to Valerie, a publicity agent, excellently portrayed by Emily Blunt. Troy and Valerie become romantically involved, which makes Buck jealous, of whom specifically is unclear. Everyone in the movie seems curious as to Buck's sexual orientation: is he gay or not? Nobody knows for sure.

There were numerous cameo appearances by notable celebrities throughout the movie and Steve Zahn put in a hilarious performance as one of Buck's devoted fans.

This was a very funny movie, and I enjoyed it a lot. I'd recommend it to anyone who appreciates a good comedy.
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Malkovich has rarely been better
Roland E. Zwick10 October 2009
"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.
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Not Great . . .
jdesando3 April 2009
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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have to disagree with the boring comments
pmcguireumc19 March 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I am not a huge Malcovich fan. Enjoyed him in "In the line of Fire", but not a whole lot else. He was excellent in this movie though. I would say in fact, that most all of the casting was excellent. Colin Hank was wonderful, very believable.

The film was very clean as well. Almost no foul language, no nudity, even for the obligatory love interest.

Two wonderful plot points (though not a spoiler) - Also, wonderful ongoing tension with George Takai that was neatly addressed in the end. This was nicely done and an interesting possible allusion to Wm Shatner's humorous attempts at singing. Opening credits are hilarious with the "you want to be a lawyer" vignette.

In many ways, one might say Buck Howard's character is a blend of Ed Wood and Wm Shatner. I will be interested to see what other people write in the coming months. Take the time to watch it though. I don't think you will be disappointed.
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"I love this town!"
moviemanMA23 May 2009
What happens to famous people when their popularity dies out? If this intrigues you I would recommend you go sit down and watch The Great Buck Howard. It stars Colin Hanks, John Malkovich, Emily Blunt, and features Tom Hanks in a comedy about just that question.

The beginning of the film almost started off exactly like Orange County, another film starring Colin Hanks. Here he plays Troy, law student who has decided that becoming a lawyer just isn't what he was cut out to do. So he does what every young man decides at some point in his life to do: write. That's about the extent of the comparison to Orange County. The rest of the film is nothing like it (and that's a good thing).

Since writing doesn't quite pay the bills, he finds a job working on the road for the Great Buck Howard, played marvelously by Malkovich. Buck is not a magician but a mentalist. He appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 61 times, but since then hasn't done much. He now plays small town theaters across the country.

Hanks doesn't know anything about show business but soon learns that life with Buck can be both rewarding and degrading. After tearing through town after town, Hanks falls into a grove until his father, played by his real father Tom Hanks, catches wind that he left school to work for Buck. He is disappointed to say the least and nearly gets Colin to quit, but Howard manages to keep him on for his secret trick (or as Howard refers to them as "effects") to take place in Cincinnati, Ohio.

It is there we meet Hanks' love interest in PR girl Valerie (Emily Blunt). Buck is paraded around town by a pair of simple folk (Debra Monk and Steve Zahn) who try to make him feel as welcome possible. In doing so they nearly ruin the entire event. The rest of the film follows Buck and Troy as they try to resurrect Buck's career and bring him back to the Tonight Show and eventually Vegas.

This is a cute little film that has a lot of heart. Malkovich puts on a great performance as the aging mentalist, giving the character a much developed personality and history. We can see that years on the road have turned this man into somewhat of a nut job, but he can still put on a great show.

The script doesn't waver. Writer/director Sean McGinly does a fine job for his first big production. There is nothing flashy going on here. Just a basic film with an above average story. That's all I expected from this film. I knew Tom Hanks wouldn't put his name on just anything (he produces the film).

I don't see this film making too much of a splash. There's nothing really here that makes me say "wow!" Malkovich is probably the best part of the film, as well as the story. I wouldn't go out of my way to see it, but I'm glad I got to. I also look forward for more of McGinly's work. It looks like he has a knack for storytelling.
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Colin Hanks is flat and uninspired in this otherwise decent film.
bruce-27322 July 2009
I think the film would have been great if they cast someone besides Colin Hanks. He is undeniably mediocre in this role. He performance is flat and drab and when I see him perform I can not help but think how much better the scene would be if someone else starred. I don't have a problem with this kid trying to cut his teeth in acting but do we all have to watch him learn to act on film. Seriously does Colin's dad Tom Hanks have to manufacture films just so his kid can have and acting career. I know Hollywood is nothing more than nepotism as a business but when the actor really doesn't cut it it's all the more insulting to the public and shame on the director for not trying to get more out of him.
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Gordon-1113 June 2009
This film is about a young man who quits law school to become the assistant to a waning mentalist performer.

"The Great Buck Howard" has a unconventional beginning, with coloured subtitles helping to get points across. It is a fun way to start a film, yet the rest of the film has a vastly different tone.The title character Buck Howard is an unpleasant and mean guy, and yet somehow he strikes a chord with the viewers. He makes me sympathise with his misfortunes, and feel sad that his amazing acts get overlooked by the public and the press. I wanted Buck Howard to succeed in his tricks, even though he is unpleasant to work with.

I enjoyed watching "The Great Buck Howard".
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Fairly Boring Movie
thebubblewrapguy22 January 2008
I really don't want to criticize this movie too much. So many people involved in this movie are people that I genuinely like. And I think that's true for nearly all of us; we like great talents like John Malkovich, Emily Blunt, Steve Zahn and Tom Hanks. Good people who have given us great work.

In this case, the real problem is that this is a boring story. I sat through the entire film with my wife and a packed house, and there was much squirming all around. There was something very amateurish about the movie, as far as the direction and writing, and it was terribly predictable. My wife said, "Why would they make this movie? It was so boring!" I wanted to disagree, because I'd give it a three while she gives it a q, but the truth is that this was like watching a bunch of people you like not have a good time.

Malkovich does his best to make his character more interesting than written, as does Emily Blunt who has the misfortune of being thrown in randomly and forced to do things just for the sake of story. Steve Zahn, who is always good, struggles to make his dull material interesting. In the end, they were all fighting against the same problem. This is a simple story with no conflict or tension or drama or comedy that telegraphs itself every step of the way. The characters are underwritten and uninteresting, and we're left with talented actors doing their best with weak material.

I would not recommend seeing this movie, even for free. It's not worth the time you need to invest. And I really wish that I didn't have to say that, because I really wanted to like this movie.
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Enjoyable comedy drama based on the career of 'THE AMAZING KRESKIN''
Jay Harris23 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The Amazing Kreskin was a fairly good vaudeville type entertainer,

This film is somewhat based on his career. John Malkovich is Buck Howard,The character is portrays is a vain, egotistical,not very likable person. Malkovich is excellent in the role.

Colin Hanksis his road manager (glorified flunky).He also does a fine job. He is getting better & better with every role. His real life father Tom Hanks, plays his father in 2 short scenes.

Emily Blunt another up & coming actress is featured as a publicist. She as usual is a delight.

Sean McGinly wrote & directed.

The film played the festival circuit in 2008, & had a limited few week run in no more than 50 screens in May 2009.

It was then released to DVD.

Actually it is easy to see why it had such a weak release. I did (I think you will as well) enjoy the movie,It just has something missing.I know I would not want to see the vaudeville act of Buck Howard ( or Kreskin) a second time,that is what may be missing.

Quite a few entertainers have bit cameo roles, Ricky Jay comes over very well in his bit.

Ratings: *** (out of 4)83 points (out of 100) IMDb 7 (out of 10)
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Pretty boring and unnecessary
died dead red28 January 2008
Sean McGinly's debut feature The Great Buck Howard is a curious, small-scale relationship comedy/drama about an over-the-hill entertainer and his young, direction-less-in-life assistant. Colin Hanks stars as the assistant, Troy, who signs up for the gig after impulsively bolting law school and the career track his dad, played by Hanks's real-life dad Tom, is pushing him towards. Malkovich goes the opposite way, energetically turning his "Buck Howard" into a show-biz cartoon, a caricature of an impossible-to-please has-been who travels with his show through the flyover states while the larger entertainment culture passes him by. One of the film's problems is its failure to come up with engaging ways to turn the relationship between Howard and Troy into anything resembling a real story. We expect him to get drawn into both Howard's life and the methodology of his effects, but he is never much more than a bemused observer of this show-biz "fossil" he's randomly hooked up with. I found it very disappointing that this movie was even showing at the Sundance film festival, it was so below the standards of the low budget indies and if you're going to use big stars you have to make it all the more genius a screenplay otherwise people are going to be cynical and bored... like I was.
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"I Love This Town!"
druid333-129 March 2009
In the words of the films central protagonist,Buck Howard (John Malkovich),an over the hill,has been illusionist (patterned somewhat after the amazing Kreskin),who's glory days were pretty much faded by the late 1970's,is still,none the less,performing to pretty much mostly empty theaters in middle American. Buck has just fired his longtime road manager,and is looking for another body to bully around. The open window of opportunity arrives for a law school dropout (played by Colin Hanks, and yes,son of Tom)to act as Buck's whipping boy. The two,aided by a pretty booking agent (Emily Blunt)hit the road,to watch Buck play every small backwater town,and performing the same stale act (boy,talk about a one trick pony),while riding on the coat tails of days gone by (he drones endlessly about appearing on the Tonight Show,with Johnny Carson back in the day,while verbally trashing current host,Jay Leno). The film also has some help from several other actual "over the hill,has beens", such as Gary Coleman,Ricky Jay ("You can call me Ray,you can call me Jay",etc.),and others,including several other cameos,including Tom Hanks, as the perturbed father of the law student (who is one of the two executive producers of the film). This is a small film that wears it's heart on it's sleeve. As it's being carried by a small,independent studio,distribution will be somewhat limited. Rated PG by the MPAA,this film has a bit of rude talk & sensual material,but not much else that could be considered offensive to parents of older children.
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The Great Buck Howard
Mike_Offerosky23 March 2009
Colin Hanks Plays a young law school dropout who ends up answering an ad as road manager. Little does he know the ad is to work for Buck Howard or as Johnny Carson dubbed him "The Great" Buck Howard. Buck Howard is a faded mentalist (not "magician", please) who still goes on about his 61 Tonight Show appearances with Johnny Carson (he has a disdain for Jay Leno). He still thinks that he's big time though he's been playing small venues for years. Meanwhile, Hanks father finds out that he dropped out of law school and is none too happy with him working for Buck. Hanks father in the film is played by his real life father, Tom. The younger Hanks decides to stick it out because you feel that he believes in Buck though he may be difficult and deep down he knows its smoke and mirrors. Including one trick that astounds Hanks each time, at the end of the night Buck goes to the back and the audience hides his money; if he fails to find it he doesn't get paid. He's never not found the money. Hanks also knows Buck has an illusion up his sleeve something big, something that would really put him back on the map. Emily Blunt plays Buck's media liaison on the road who becomes Hanks love interest.

The Great Buck Howard is only so-so. It feels like it wants to be The Graduate meets Mr. Saturday Night. Malkovitch is the only standout thing about this picture. The cast is capable but bland. The end result is an uneven, unsatisfying film. The film seems to be missing a spark and as a result it feels like it meanders too much in its 90 minutes. It feels like a short film stretched to feature length.
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The great disappointment
solubution19 August 2009
It hurts me to say that even the great John Malkovich wasn't able to save this movie from being the most boring 90 minutes of my life.

There are many flaws in this film, but what makes it so hard to watch is the main character, Troy Gable. It's hard to figure why they would cast such an uninteresting and uncharismatic actor for the main role, but the answer obviously lies in his name, Colin Hanks. Which is also the answer to the second big question: what the hell is Tom Hanks doing in this movie?

Nevertheless, with a reasonable actor for the main role they might have raised the level of this movie to watchable. Like so many other American movies it's full of clichés, uncreative symbolism and dull jokes. The only time I managed to laugh was when Valerie Brennan called the character played by Colin Hanks "obviously good looking".

Some bright spots are the performances of Steve Zahn and the always entertaining John Malkovich.
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The Enjoyable Buck Howard
otisalonzo27 November 2010
The Great Buck Howard is an enjoyable film, with John Malkovick playing the title character to a delightfully eccentric extent, but not the lead. Colin Hanks plays the lead, a he is a confused law school drop who ends up becoming the personal assistant to Buck Howard, a mentalist whose moment of fame came during the Johnny Carson era on the Tonight Show. Colin's character spends most of his time being enamored with Buck's aura.

The film follows the two as they travel to various minor cities across the USA in hopes of Buck landing it big again. The film is enjoyable because of characters, the story constructed and unfolds in a fairly traditional manner but Malkovick, Emily Blunt, and Steve Zahn make the entire event worthwhile.

The only issues with the film are that writer-director Sean McGinly is a little too much like Colin's character, Buck seems like an enigma even to him. The story unfolds without letting the viewer get to know Buck, he remains a fairly distance character. The viewer likes and roots for Buck, but it is purely through the eyes of his personal assistant and not on our own. McGinly created a fun film with interesting characters but decided not to examine the story with the depth he could have.

The Great Buck Howard was an enjoyable movie but it missed it chance at being much more.
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One of the best performances this millennium
Raymond8 August 2010
Caught this movie on Viasat Finland without having ever heard of it before. The cast looked interesting enough and it sure was. Sad to see such a good movie go straight to DVD and TV (?).

See this movie for Malkovich, if not for anything else. There are rarely so enjoyable comedic performances, it's over the top, but also very subtle and nuanced. It's right up there with Kevin Klines performance in A Fish Called Wanda. Malkovich makes you hate, love, cheer and pity his character the Great Buck Howard. I'm not the biggest Malkovich fan, but he really hits it here.

Rest of the cast is believable enough with some funny supporting roles, Blunt is always fun to watch. Younger Hanks is a bit wooden and the scenes between him and his dad Tom have a strange tension to them, not sure if it's intentional. You just feel like you should leave the room, and let them sort their business privately.

A truly heart warming movie in a bit of an old fashioned way. And truly one of the best performances I've seen for a while.
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Moral of the story
tomasetti31 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I was forever trying to find what this movie is trying to say. It's a quirky movie, and a lot of the reviewers on this site were indeed puzzled by it. I read a lot of "I liked it, but I don't understand why they made this movie.." About halfway through the movie, during one of his finale's (when he has the audience hide his money and then finds it), I had an epiphany about what this movie was trying to say.

You see, throughout the movie, Buck Howard really does "love this town". In fact, when Troy flat out calls him facetious, Buck backs up that famous one liner with the hard truth. That he really does love the small towns, the small town shows and the small town people that attend them. He was out of place in Vegas. And that's why he couldn't find the money during that scene.

Perhaps I'm stepping ahead of myself, the moral of the story is this. Do what you love, and the money will come. And funny enough, I just read a book on this topic by the editor of Wired magazine called "Free", which basically explains third party revenue streams and all of the various ways of making money out of our relatively new free-to-use business model. So it's as true today as it ever was.

Do what you love, and the money will find you. So when he was in Vegas, receiving advice from people on how to change his show, to cut out what the focus groups didn't like, etc, he kind of lost the thrill of the show, the fun of it all. And so he was unable to find his money.

At the end of the movie, it centers around Troy being slightly bothered by how Buck is able to perform this trick over 5000 times successfully, but has this one show in Vegas where he is unable to do it, and leaves Vegas for good. It just drills the point home even more. In fact, I believe at some point in the movie, Buck Howard says exactly the advice that I realized he was giving all along - do what you love and the money will find you! I hope someone found this review to be insightful in a way that other reviews weren't. Most reviews broke down the movie by explaining who is in it and for how many scenes they made a cameo but in general missed this entire message Ryan
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tedg27 July 2009
A performance about performing. A story written by and about a fellow learning how to find the story. The performances here (of the performer) are shown to be cheesy, cheap showmanship — and that's true of the film as well.

The only slightly engaging thing is three moments, each about 15 seconds, where there is a reference to the dark forces as explaining the talent (and somehow insinuating that homosexuality is involved).

There is earnest narration, but all in all, this is just another minor amusement from the Hanks production company. Watching it makes you aware of this. The great Mister Hanks even makes an appearance in a role tailored to allow him to claim this as well beneath him.

The mettle of an actor, I think, can be seen through the projects they make happen because they can. Hanks cannot ever contribute something to a weighty project because he simply has no heft as a being. He is a lot — dare it be said — like the fellow in this project.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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I love this town
Michael Ledo10 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Colin Hanks play Troy Gable, a law school drop out. He becomes the road manager for The Great Buck Howard (John Malkovich) a flamboyant washed up mentalist. Buck plays the small towns as Colin hides from Buck his unpopularity. Buck Howard is a caricature of The Amazing Kreskin. Emily Blunt plays a publicist and love interest for Troy. Tom Hanks has a minor role as Troy's father.

The film is rather shallow and predictable. John Malkovich provides us with a quirky character who is questionably gay. Sadly, Colin Hanks lacks charisma and is unable to pull off a great performance. In spite of the short comings Malkovich gives a performance that carries the film.

No f-bombs, sex, nudity. Just good PG fun.
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gentle reverence
SnoopyStyle4 July 2016
Troy Gable (Colin Hanks) leaves law school which he hated. It was pushed on him by his father (Tom Hanks). He decides to write but he needs a paying job. He starts to work for mentalist Buck Howard (John Malkovich) who is famous for being on The Tonight Show 61 times, the one with Johnny Carson. He shakes hands really vigorously and his big trick is finding his money in the audience at the end of the show. When the cynical road manager Alan Berkman (Adam Scott) leaves, Troy takes over. In Cincinnati, they are joined by media publicist Valerie Brennan (Emily Blunt). A misunderstanding leads to a sudden resurgence.

It has some deeper moments but mostly it's a gentle, reverent view of this Buck Howard character. It could have been darker. Colin Hanks' nice everyman gets into the way of that. He's given a needed jolt when Emily Blunt comes in. She really should have stayed in the movie. It's not logical and the movie misses her when she disappears. Malkovich is something else. He is masterful. The only way better is to get an actor pass his prime and Malkovich is definitely not pass his prime. This is a wonderful homage to the old performers.
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Malkovich at his best
tfmiltz4 June 2016
The movie is painful as to witnessing humility - a man so alone - so full of himself - unable to see himself. When someone asks if Buck has family... "There is no one - just him"

I give this movie EASILY 10 of 10 as to Hanks ? short role- but producer ? 10 of 10 too.

Some GREAT ROLES brought forward here


It doesn't get much better here


AS SOON as Buck hit the big money

it no longer had meaning

SO MANY COMPLEX messages in this cinematic offering.

I will cherish this film forever

Malkovich - once again-

he really nailed this one

PAINFUL - LOVING - COMPASSIONATE- begetting humility -

what MORE can you ask for ?

Hanks brings out FULL TILT at the end though

BIG money vs ?


This movie brings SO many valuable themes to the surface

father to son - that's big - that's humanity

yet? Buck ? vocationally ? to son -

all I can do is give this production 10 of 10 -

and celebrate the final result

John Malkovich is SO good at playing this role - you never ever think Malkovich - you ONLY see Buck.
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It was biographical! That's why it was boring!
siderite4 February 2010
You try to find all kinds of reasons for wasting time watching a movie that, in the end, you did not like. And one of them is that if the movie was someone who actually existed, then it has reasons to be boring and unpleasant because it cannot veer too much from the truth.

It is, of course, a rationalization with no grounds whatsoever. One you wake up you realize that the movie was just plain uninteresting and maybe its agenda was something else that entertaining you, like for example to give a role to Tom Hanks' son, Colin Hanks. I don't know that, it's pure speculation. Maybe I am just mean spirited because I mustered the time and effort to watch a movie that did not seem so interesting in the first place only to find out that it actually wasn't.

I can't say the people involved did not try their best. The acting was good, the dialogues witty, only the subject was nothing I would have been interested in. And movies about quirky crazy people I've seen so many that I simply can't watch a film just for that reason alone.

Bottom line: you might like it, but my bet is you won't.
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Slight and predictable, but quite enjoyable
tarmcgator30 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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