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The Great Buck Howard 2009


When a law school dropout (COLIN HANKS) answers an advertisement to be a personal assistant, much to the chagrin of his father (TOM HANKS), he unknowingly signs on to work for a belligerent has-been magician (JOHN MALKOVICH) struggling to resurrect his career. This leads to a journey across the country staging the comeback of a lifetime.

John Malkovich, Colin Hanks
1 hour, 30 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Comedy
Director Sean McGinly
Starring John Malkovich, Colin Hanks
Supporting actors Emily Blunt, Ricky Jay, Steve Zahn, Tom Hanks, Griffin Dunne, Debra Monk, Adam Scott, Patrick Fischler, Wallace Langham, Jonathan Ames, Jacquie Barnbrook, Paul Darricarrere, Terry Scannell, Matt Hoey, Jobi Graham, B.J. Hendricks, Nate Hartley, Floyd Van Buskirk
Studio Magnolia
MPAA rating PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
If you ever had to wonder why you loved John Malkovitch, this is the reason why. This is the kind of movie you watch with your mouth open. The acting is strong. There's not a lot happening, this isn't a thriller, but even in the most ordinary scenes you can see that everyone believes in their characters. I thought I had this film figured out, but I was happily wrong. This story defies convention! John is simply fantastic in this role. Colin Hanks turns in a competent performance. He's a young actor so he still has to cut his teeth a little, but he did a fair enough job. His father even shows up for a scene and that's always nice.

But the real heart of the story I think is "do you still believe in magic?" not the real kind with witches and spells - but "magic" in a sense of wonder and amazement. I don't want to give anything away but in every scene when you think the story is about to fall apart, John Malkovitch pulls it off! He holds this film together with his bare hands. He's like a rock surrounded by superglue. He just makes this story happen. The way he talks about the human spirit -- without talking about it.
The only way I can give an analogy is...remember in "Braveheart" at the end when he dies for his people and screams "Freedom!" well, that scene only works if you completely believe in his character. If you believe that William Wallace really was THAT much of a believer. Mel Gibson took that character to the wall and you had to believe it.

THAT's what John does with Buck Howard. The character is so outrageous and over the top that at first you laugh at him. But then later on you come to realize that this man is a believer. This man is for real, this isn't an act. He's not acting. Buck Howard does believe in the magic of the human soul.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This fine film recalls to mind O'Toole's "My Favorite Year." It follows the travels of an aging mentalist (Malkovich) as he enthusiastically performs before shrinking crowds of aged fans---observed with growing admiration by his road manager, a sceptical young writer (Colin Hanks). Malkovich creates an ode to live performance. The film gives us the same joy as we see the once-famous performer demonstrate that his fame was well deserved.
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Format: DVD
Among the many films that are released each year we are treated to some huge blockbusters. One this week out on DVD will no doubt be WATCHMEN. But while that movie may be the most sought after film, it will also leave many behind who won't get to the store in time for their copy. So instead, why not take a risk and watch something a bit more human, a bit more funny and a bit more sad. Why not watch THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD?

If you've never heard nor seen this film don't be surprised. As I said, blockbusters tend to take up space in the multiplexes around the country where an 18 screen complex offers only 4 films at a time. If you have HDNet, you may have caught it on the premier night it ran. If not, do so now.

Colin Hanks stars as Troy Gable, a young student in college studying to be a lawyer not because he loves it or sees himself having a future here but because his father has sent him here. Realizing he has no desire to live this life, he takes off and heads to LA and begins searching for a job. This results in his meeting the Great Buck Howard, now in search of a new road manager.

Buck Howard (John Malkovich) is a low level celebrity on the down side of life. At one time a notable performer who was featured on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 61 times, he now finds himself playing regional theaters to half packed audiences. But at least these people are fans, those who recall his glory days and now have that moment to bask in the glow of this celebrity who has come to their lives.

Buck is a strange character. A mentalist with a touch now and then of magic, Buck is hard on his staff of one but loving of his crowd when on stage. Until a few take things into their own hand in one instance throwing off his game a bit.
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Format: DVD
"The Great Buck Howard" is a quiet, slightly offbeat comedy about "The Great" Buck Howard, a mentalist and live performer in decline, effectively played by John Malkovich. The film's story is told from the viewpoint of a law school dropout Troy Gabel (Colin Hanks), now working for this mentalist past his prime as a road manager. While Buck attempts to reboot his career, Troy, who aspires to be a writer, meets a charming publicist Valerie (Emily Blunt).

It is reported that the character of "Buck Howard" is loosely based on The Amazing Kreskin. Whatever the fact may be, it is John Malkovich with his superb performances who gives depth and insight to the film's thin story. Material like this would fall flat in the hands of a lesser actor, but Malkovich gives life to the character he plays. Buck is not an easy person to be with, often difficult and always demanding, but Malkovich turns him from a one-dimensional caricature into a fascinating, even charming character you really care.

Amusing and well-acted as it is, "The Great Buck Howard" is deeply flawed. The film's problem becomes clear when John Malkovich or "The Great" Buck Howard is not on the screen. Two subplots about Troy's concerned father (cameo by Tom Hanks) and Troy's romance with Valerie are uninspired and uninteresting. Writer/director Sean McGinly overuses voice over narrations to explain what is too obvious, or what should remain unsaid.

After all this is "The Great Buck Howard" and should be so. John Malkovich, often typecast in bigger films, shows what he really can do with the right material. Unfortunately the film tried to be something else, too - Troy's coming-of-age story, which, sorry, but honestly, we are not interested. Watch the film for John Malkovich, or The Great Buck Howard. It is well worth it.
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