The Great Buck Howard


Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25

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Critic Reviews

  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. 88
    You might not bust a gut laughing, but Malkovich’s performance alone is worth the 90-minutes required to watch it.
  4. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    A bit of a throwback, a nostalgic, easygoing Capra-esque comedy that should appeal to both youthful and older audiences.
  5. 80
    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. 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. A warm, amiable glimpse at the end of the showbiz road.
  11. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Behind-the-curtains comedy reps an amusing showcase for John Malkovich's diva-like theatrics in the title role.
  12. 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.
  13. 67
    The story is slight and somewhat less than engaging, despite nice supporting turns from Emily Blunt and Ricky Jay.
  14. 63
    Like its main character, the production rarely seems ready for prime time.
  15. 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.
  16. 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. 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.
  20. 50
    Malkovich swallows up the screen, and when he's out of frame, the movie feels slack and slow.
  21. 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.
  22. 50
    Malkovich has a role that coulda-woulda-shoulda been a sensation if he had had a different director and different co-stars.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  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
  1. Sep 6, 2010
    The InstaFlicka Index 3.5/5 ----- The InstaFlicka Podcast Doing our part to help you by watching the NetFlix Instant Queue until our eyesThe InstaFlicka Index 3.5/5 ----- The InstaFlicka Podcast Doing our part to help you by watching the NetFlix Instant Queue until our eyes bleed.
    Full Review »
  2. eliasc
    Nov 17, 2009
    Belongs in 'One Of The Best Movies You Never Heard Of' class of film-making. I happened to catch it on a trans-Atlantic flight Belongs in 'One Of The Best Movies You Never Heard Of' class of film-making. I happened to catch it on a trans-Atlantic flight where on-board film choices are not exactly known for their high quality. This little gem of a film was a great surprise. With obvious support by a couple of handfuls of Hollywood notables who lend their talents in the form of cameos, this gentle and nostalgic film tells the story of The Great Buck Howard in his declining years, played by the always fascinating John Malkovich. Through the eyes of his assistant Troy Gable, played by Colin Hanks, the under-rated actor-son of Tom Hanks and loosely based on the career of real-life mentalist, The Amazing Kreskin, we watch the astringent but vulnerable Buck Howard, who is now used to dealing with being a show biz has-been, suddenly getting instant fame and ... well, you'll have to see the movie. Outstanding performances by Malkovitch, Hanks and Blunt set the proper mood of this little independent film. Tom Hanks makes a couple of appearances as well. As producer of the film, I think that he hoped that his presence might boost theater attendance. This tactic apparently did not work. This is a nice film that deserved better attention than it got. Catch it on DVD or netflix. You will be glad you did. Full Review »
  3. CapoRegime
    Oct 13, 2009
    John Malkovich is perfect for his role and so does Colin Hanks. Very funny from start to finish.