8.7

The Great Buck Howard

Movies Reviews John Malkovich
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The Great Buck Howard


Release Date: March 20 (limited)

Director/Writer: Sean McGinly

Cinematographer: Tak Fujimoto

Starring: John Malkovich, Colin Hanks, Emily Blunt

Studio/Run Time: Magnolia Pictures, 87 mins.


Dramedy about warshed-up mentalist: totally straight, genuinely entertaining


John Malkovich is magnificently magnanimous as The Great Buck Howard's titular mentalist-not-magician. Loosely based on the life of '70s TV staple the Amazin' Kreskin (AKA: George Kresge) Malkovich brings considerable affection to Howard's late-career affectations. Playing opposite Howard's decline is Colin (son of Tom) Hanks, who likewise brings real warmth to Howard's beleaguered road manager, Troy, a soft-faced everyman. Family friendly (or at least seriously PG), the film is also utterly formulaic and totally safe, right down to the love interest (Emily Blunt's spot-on Valerie). But the details are real (of course the flighty Valerie is a publicist), the humor is sharp and self-aware, the celebrity cameos are done right (Michael Winslow! Jonathan Ames!), and voiceovers, montages, and other editing gimcracks are tight. Writer/director Sean McGinly neither delves into Howard's vast sadness, nor allows it much darkness, but lets it wash gently over the film, entertainment more than heartbreak. Just like Buck.