The Great Buck Howard

The Great Buck Howard (2008)
★★★ / ★★★★

Written and directed by Sean McGinly, “The Great Buck Howard” stars John Malkovich as a magician/mentalist who desperately clings on to the remaining celebrity he has left from his best years of performance. Forced to work on small venues, he one day hires Troy (Colin Hanks), a twentysomething who recently drops out of law school to pursue his dream to be a writer, as Buck Howard’s very own errand boy. I have to be honest and say that I did not expect much from this movie. However, twenty minutes into it, I was really into it because it had a certain insight about the struggles of a person who wishes to break out of the expectations of his parents (in this case, Troy’s dad was played by Colin’s real-life father, Tom Hanks) and follow his true passion. I guess it was easy for me to relate to it because my graduation from the university is just right around the corner. It also had some insight when it comes to satirizing celebrity life. This picture had a plethora of cameos to offer such as Regis Philbin, Conan O’Brien, George Takei, Jon Stuart, and many more. At first I thought Buck was just a washed-up sham who claimed to have known and met all the celebrities he mentioned and that it was only a matter of time until we get to know who he really was. When in fact, the story unfolded in the opposite direction. It had a bona fide sense of humor even though Malkovich’s character was vain and at times quite poisonous with his words. I also enjoyed the romantic angle between Colin Hanks and Emily Blunt. I did not think that the two would have chemistry but, surprisingly enough, they did and the whole thing was magic (pun intended). I also never thought that Colin ever looked like his dad but when Colin and Blunt were on screen, I noticed certain quirky body movements and intonations in Colin’s voice that truly reminded me of his father. In under ninety minutes, this film managed to entertain and surprise me in many ways so I’m giving it a solid recommendation. Lastly, one should not miss Malkovich being brave enough to take his character to the extreme yet not lose heart so that we can ultimately root for him to succeed.

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