Thursday, April 1, 2010


This version of DVD-MUST-SEE is The Great Buck Howard, a movie I am positive most of you have not seen. How could I know this? Well, the total worldwide box office take for this film was less than a million dollars at $790,195. It only played in 55 theaters. Chances are most of you missed your chance to see it on the big screen. Despite being accepted and first shown at the Sundance Film Festival and getting positive critic reviews (72% approval on RottenTomatoes), this film's run in theaters was short.

This film is based on the true life of The Amazing Kreskin.

The Great Buck Howard stars the, well, great John Malkovich. He plays a fading performer who calls himself a "mentalist." He is, in most regards a magician/entertainer. In the movie Buck emphasizes he is not a gimmicky magician, but a "mentalist." The story is told through the perspective of Troy played by Colin Hanks. Troy drops out of law school without his father's knowledge to pursue a career as a writer. Unable to keep up with his bills because of his new career choice, Troy is forced to take up the job of assistant to the maniacal and difficult to please Buck Howard.

Working for the mentalist, Troy discovers that he rather enjoys the pressing job of pleasing Buck. He is never short of impressed by the act Buck puts forth on stage. Troy even helps the fading star pick up some national recognition again. He achieves this with the help of a publicist named Valerie played by a woman I truly love, Emily Blunt. Together they work to get Buck back in the spotlight which they achieve to some degree.

The film headlines a star studded cast. Acting as secondary characters in this film are: Steve Zahn, Adam Scott, Ricky Jay, Matthew Gray Gubler, and Tom Hanks. I personally do not love Colin Hanks as an actor, but he fits this role perfectly. His chemistry with the supporting cast is picture perfect which is completely necessary in a character driven story. Though I do not approve of Emily Blunt being involved with other men right before my eyes, it is a pleasant secondary story arc of guy meets girl that a movie like this needs.

It is unfortunate this movie has not been seen by mass audiences because John Malkovich kills in his portrayal of this quirky character. I think it is one of his best roles though none could top Teddy KGB in Rounders. Even with him not being the main character in this story, the movie was made by his performance. Without Malkovich magnificently playing this role the other characters would have little to no conflict to make this story thrive.

The film features many cameos, making this movie much more enjoyable. When Troy's father (played by his real life father Tom Hanks) discovers he is no longer in law school he confronts him in front of Buck which turns catastrophic like a car wreck you cannot peel your eyes away from. In my opinion, it is the best scene of the entire movie. Tom Hanks' agitation is apparent as he sees his son working for the loony Buck instead of pursing a career in law.

To promote his act, Buck appears on many talk shows like: Conan O'Brien, Regis Philbin, and Jon Stewart. Also making cameos are: Jay Leno, Tom Arnold, Martha Stewart, Kelly Ripa, George Takei, and David Blaine....whew (wipes brow of sweat).

With all these working components, it is almost laughable to think this movie had such a small amount of commercial success. Hopefully, my recommendation to see The Great Buck Howard will motivate many of you to give this great movie a chance. The writing, the cast and their acting, and the overall execution of this project should put this on any movie lovers must-see list. If you do not like this film, check for a pulse, you may be dead.


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