Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 22 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Once upon a time, Buck Howard spent his days in the limelight. His mind-boggling feats as a mentalist extraordinaire – not to be confused with those of a mere magician - earned him a marquee act in Vegas and 61 appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. In his own humble opinion, his talents go far beyond simple sleight of hand – he can read minds and hypnotize not just a single soul but an entire room of people! But nowadays, it’s clear to everyone but Buck that his act has lost its luster; he performs in faded community centers and hasn’t sold out a theater in years. Yet, with a hearty handshake and a trademark “I love this town!,” Buck Howard perseveres, confident in his own celebrity, convinced his comeback is imminent. He just needs a new road manager and personal assistant. As it turns out, recent law school drop-out and unemployed, would-be writer Troy Gable needs a job and a purpose. Working for the pompous, has-been mentalist fills the former requirement, but how it satisfies the latter is questionable, especially to his father, who still assumes Troy is in law school. Nonetheless, with the aid of a fiery publicist and a bold stroke of fate, Buck surprisingly lands back into the American consciousness, taking Troy along for the ride of his life. As the coveted spotlight again shines on the great Buck Howard, Buck becomes the unlikeliest of teachers as Troy learns a few tricks he couldn’t possibly have picked up in law school. (Magnolia Pictures) Expand
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. 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.
  3. Doesn't allow the story's considerable nostalgia and sentimentality to overwhelm it.
  4. 67
    The story is slight and somewhat less than engaging, despite nice supporting turns from Emily Blunt and Ricky Jay.
  5. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    An affectionate though flawed comedy.
  6. 50
    A suitable mainstream vehicle for Malkovich's bruised aloofness.
  7. 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.

See all 25 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 1 out of 7
  1. 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 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. Collapse
  2. RyanS
    Jul 26, 2009
    This movie was hilarious. John Malkovich is awesome as the deluded, arrogant and washed-up magician Buck Howard. And what a handshake!
  3. CapoRegime
    Oct 13, 2009
    John Malkovich is perfect for his role and so does Colin Hanks. Very funny from start to finish.
  4. JayH
    Jul 17, 2009
    Very well done story, believable screenplay and fine performances from everyone in the cast. It's entertaining, has a good score and well developed characters. Expand
  5. 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 eyes bleed.
  6. BillD
    Apr 10, 2009
    This movie is oddly similar to My Favorite Year, right down to the obtrusive romantic subplot. Colin Hanks (if he should be cast at all) is miscast as a leading man type; Emily Blunt is wasted in a disposable role; Tom Hanks looks like he wandered onto the wrong set. Malkovich as usual is great. If you're old enough to remember The Amazing Kreskin on the Johnny Carson Tonight Show, the movie is worth seeing. Expand
  7. SomeGuy
    Aug 8, 2009
    I can't believe people actually liked this. Three of us watched this and it was like watching paint dry. The attempts at humor were so lame that it was actually uncomfortable watching this....embarassingly bad. I'll never get that 2 hours of my life back. No wonder this went straight to DVD and nobody had heard of it....but oh, it's got Tom Hanks in it so it must be funny.....his 10 seconds of screen time were as dull as the rest of this garbage. Expand