Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. The Great Buck Howard is in love with kitsch, the backwaters of showbiz, and true magic. It's a wee charmer that left me enchanted.
  2. 88
    I firmly believe such illusions are never the result of psychic powers, but I am fascinated by them, anyway. The wisdom of this film, directed and written by Sean McGinly, is to never say.
  3. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    A bit of a throwback, a nostalgic, easygoing Capra-esque comedy that should appeal to both youthful and older audiences.
  4. Reviewed by: Patrick Parker
    You might not bust a gut laughing, but Malkovich’s performance alone is worth the 90-minutes required to watch it.
  5. Reviewed by: Don R. Lewis
    A fine little comedy and a hilarious character study of an ego gone wild.
  6. 75
    A small-scale charmer that provides a tailor-made role for Malkovich, who is always fun to watch.
  7. Doesn't allow the story's considerable nostalgia and sentimentality to overwhelm it.
  8. Reviewed by: Craig Butler
    Buck is a very audience-friendly film, provided that the audience is willing to let itself be taken along for a fairly manipulative ride.
  9. Consistently good as long as it centers on Buck and his seriocomic travails.
  10. Reviewed by: Duane Byrge
    A warm, amiable glimpse at the end of the showbiz road.
  11. Hanks is extremely understated, but his passivity works: as the son of a superstar, he may have realized that Troy’s role is simply to observe and reflect his boss’s glory.
  12. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Behind-the-curtains comedy reps an amusing showcase for John Malkovich's diva-like theatrics in the title role.
  13. 67
    The story is slight and somewhat less than engaging, despite nice supporting turns from Emily Blunt and Ricky Jay.
  14. Like Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler," Malkovich plays a star long past his glory days in The Great Buck Howard, but continuing to do the only thing he knows. The tone of the two films couldn't be less alike, but the story arc of the central characters graphs the same.
  15. 63
    Like its main character, the production rarely seems ready for prime time.
  16. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    An affectionate though flawed comedy.
  17. An agreeable show business satire with a warm heart.
  18. 58
    Buck Howard has a nice feel for its tacky, second-rate show-business milieu--a rinky-dink world of telethons, small towns starved for entertainment, and entertainers whose careers have been in freefall since Hollywood Squares went off the air.
  19. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Laughs? Schmaltz? Life lessons? They're all there in Sean McGinly's pleasantly lackadaisical script, but not in such abundance that they seem reason enough to see the film.
  20. 50
    This is an old man's movie, without an old man's experience. Despite McGinly's stated affection for Kreskin (the movie ends with a written appreciation of him), there's nothing personal about it. It's the movie equivalent of handing us a business card.
  21. The greatest problem with The Great Buck Howard is that writer/director McGinly shapes the story with young Troy as the protagonist, when the really interesting character is the one for whom the movie is named.
  22. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Malkovich swallows up the screen, and when he's out of frame, the movie feels slack and slow.
  23. Reviewed by: Dan Zak
    Malkovich has a role that coulda-woulda-shoulda been a sensation if he had had a different director and different co-stars.
  24. 50
    The only person who wakes the movie from its slumbers is Emily Blunt. She gets a nothing role as a publicist, and makes something both sultry and casual out of it.
  25. 50
    A suitable mainstream vehicle for Malkovich's bruised aloofness.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 22 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 1 out of 7
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