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on September 19, 2014
Entertaining movie based on a real magician. Malcovich did a wonderful job acting out his part. Tom Hanks makes a cameo appearance with his real life son. Good story. Probably was not marketed well. If the movie had a different title, it may have been more marketable as well. I hope they can keep making good movies like this in the future.
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on October 29, 2014
I really enjoyed watching this, although there's no powerful plot. The acting is excellent, and to my surprise, there was minimal cultural rot (language, explicit scenes, etc). Wow - hard to imagine how a story can be told without grabbing attention by "pushing the envelope" (that's sarcasm, Hollywood!)
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on August 26, 2009
It doesn't have the CGI razzle-dazzle of a summer blockbuster or even the pyrotechnics of a Criss Angel show, but THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD is a movie that will delight anyone who:

a) is a fan of the great John Malkovich;

b) has an enduring fondness for the showmanship of "mentalists" like The Amazing Kreskin (the real-life inspiration for the character of Buck Howard);

c) wants to believe in the possibility of magic and the importance of following your dreams.

Malkovich is the heart and soul of this movie and his portrayal of The Great Buck Howard whose enthusiasm ("I love this town!") for his performing life endures no matter how small the town he's in or the stage he's on. Colin Hanks can't match the great John for his on-screen charisma, but gives a likable enough performance as Troy, the kid who disappoints his dad (Tom Hanks) to become Buck's traveling sidekick. Emily Blunt, Steve Zahn, Griffin Dunne and Ricky Jay supply some additional star power and credibility to the funny, sad, and magical events that unfold.

Special features include Outtakes, a Behind-the-scenes featurette and an interview with the Amazing Kreskin himself.
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I'm not a huge John John Malkovich fan, but this seems like one of those rare occasions when actor and role seem perfectly matched to produce an entertaining movie. Malkovich plays Buck Howard, a failing magician loosely based on the Amazing Kreskin. Malkovich's character is both corny and charming. He undergoes a transformation from being frustrated with his fate of performing for small-town America, to finding the his big break didn't necessarily bring him what he most needed. Meanwhile, Colin Hanks (Tom Hank's son) plays a young man searching for himself after dropping out of law school. Ultimately, this movie isn't a slapstick comedy and you probably won't find yourself laughing out loud. Nonetheless, it has some funny moments and is a breath of fresh air compared to the stale comedies Hollywood has been producing (with their utterly predictable plots).I found myself unable to predict where exactly the story was going or what would happen next to Buck Howard - and I loved that. Hopefully you will too.
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on August 21, 2012
This was an enjoyable story, interestingly filmed and told. Malkovich as "The Great Buck Howard" was simply brilliant. The movie was funny, quirky, corny, sad, heartfelt and, at times, a little cliche. I really am tempted to go three-stars for this movie because almost everything aside from Malkovich seemed strained, secondary and inferior. I don't mean IN COMPARISON to Malkovich, I mean as it stood. The relationship between Hanks and Blunt was just weird. I know they meant it to be weird, but it wasn't believable and the acting when Malkovich wasn't in the scene was not very good. However, I am sticking with 4-stars because I ended up liking the tone, comedy and story a lot. If the trailer (which basically tells the whole story) interests you, the movie will deliver. If you watch the trailer and say "This doesn't seem like much of a movie", then don't press play! There's "only" storytelling and characters here.
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on February 7, 2011
This is one of those films that seems to have slipped through the distribution cracks because I don't ever recall seeing trailers for it. Possibly, the producers (Tom Hank's Playtone Pictures) thought they smelled a stinker and let it slip out quietly. I can understand their thinking, THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD is one of those projects that has all the right elements---great cast, very solid direction and a compelling story--but they just don't jell. The casting of John Malkovich in the title role was the one thing that, for me, derailed the film. Malkovich is a wonderful actor who could not sell this role. He's an actor whose persona as a misanthrope is so established that, as Buck Howard, he comes off as unlikable and insincere.

I was shocked to learn that the Howard character is based on the career of The Amazing Kreskin. I saw Kreskin, years ago in Odessa, Texas, in a less than stellar venue. Still, he was definitely amazing, even though he failed to locate his paycheck at the end of show, something I understand has happened very few times in his career. Kresking didn't take it well (who could blame him) and publicly castigated the guilty parties for their unsportsmanlike trickery. However, the mentalist was so entertaining that this sour note didn't diminish my respect for his talent.

All of that said, I would recommend THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD because it's quite watchable, your enjoyment may be increased knowing that it's based on Kreskin. Call it 'stunt casting' but I think the film would have worked so much better if producer Tom Hanks had switched roles and portrayed Buck Howard.
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on June 6, 2012
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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on March 25, 2014
A bit like "My Favorite Year" in some ways, this unknown movie is worth watching! John Malkovich is very good as a dramatic substitute for "The Amazing Kreskin," who was pretty obnoxious on the Tonight Show many years ago, but whose story, as told in this dramatization, is rather touching at times. Not a big movie, but worth seeing.
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on March 9, 2016
I never heard about this movie until I went to an Amazing Kreskin show (the real life person the Buck Howard character is based on). I had heard about him for years, but never knew who he was... to be honest, I assumed he was long dead!!! Kreskin mentioned this film at his show.

I looked up the movie afterward and was very surprised that it was a rather new film with big stars and that it was already on DVD... I don't remember seeing any promos or knowing of it coming to any local theatres. Therefore, I consider it a hidden gem.

It's a playful, fun movie with heart... same tone as "That Thing You Do" (with the same people behind it, Tom Hanks, etc.). John Malkovich is sooooooo good in this film (and I confess that I never really liked him much in any other role before... don't know why, he's always gotten the highest kudos from the film world). He plays a big star from "yesterday" who's reduced to working the small circuits in a modern world that has largely forgotten about him... until now! (Don't want to give it away).

He's an eccentric character, who hasn't adapted with the times, oblivious to how campy he is and the fact that he has an inflated sense of importance. Yet we can all feel for him and the other characters... we can laugh at them but also ultimately care about them because they are sincere.

There are so many funny moments in this film. It's definitely worth buying (it's not pricey) or at least renting (if you can find it).
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on June 14, 2015
Wasn't too sure about this movie until I watched it. Actually quite interesting show. John Malkovich gives a great performance and I really felt for his character, didn't know whether to like him, pity him, accept him or what, but all the way it was a fascinating character study. If you like introspective films and light drama, this is a good flick!
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