“Isn’t that wild!?” Buck Howard would proclaim, rather than ask, after he befuddles the crowd with yet another mentalist effect (not trick!). Played by the one and only John Malkovich, The Great Buck Howard endlessly tours small town after small town surviving only off his 15 minutes of fame that died off years ago. Law school dropout Troy Gable (Colin Hanks) reluctantly accepts the challenge of Buck’s road manager, telling himself it’s only until he finds out what he really should be doing. After a few weeks on the road Troy gets set straighted out by his father (Tom Hanks) and decides to bid farewell to Buck, only to get reeled back in by promises of an illusion so grand it will catapult him back to fame. With his signature “where’s my money” act at the end every show where he astonishingly hunts down his money which is hidden by a random audience member, one can’t help but wonder what his grand finale could possibley be.
We take a front row seat through the eyes of Buck’s number one guy Troy as they both try to work out what the rest of their lives have in store for them. Both Buck and Troy are in search of more for their lives, but it’s such an old story that the audience can’t connect as well as they should. Troy is trying to fall into his own, and Buck is making a feeble attempt to keep his show alive. Fortunately both lead actors are convincing enough that this still makes for a good watch. You’ll learn to love the Great Buck Howard in all of his corny and oh so mysterious ways. Malkovich brings so much life to this character that you’ll be singing along to his tune the entire movie.
One thought that kept jogging through my mind as I watch A list celebrities bounce in and out of this story, is that this film feels very much like a high budget after school project. Its full run time is no more than 90 minutes, any sign of conviction is absent, and our plot is like a worn village bicycle that doesn’t need to be ridden by anyone, ever again. Sill, there were so many brilliant minds wondering around the set that director Sean McGinly uses all 90 of those minutes to bring us a very enjoyable tale. You’ll laugh at the jokes, and root on the heroes. If you’re looking for family friendly flick the passes a good hour and a half, you owe it to yourself to give this movie a rent.