The Great Buck HowardMovies Reviews John Malkovich
Release Date: March 20 (limited)
Director/Writer: Sean McGinly
Cinematographer: Tak Fujimoto
Starring: John Malkovich, Colin Hanks, Emily Blunt
Studio/Run Time: Magnolia Pictures, 87 mins.
Dramedy about warshed-up mentalist: totally straight, genuinely entertaining
John Malkovich is magnificently magnanimous as The Great Buck Howard‘s titular mentalist-not-magician. Loosely based on the life of ’70s TV staple the Amazin’ Kreskin (AKA: George Kresge) Malkovich brings considerable affection to Howard’s late-career affectations. Playing opposite Howard’s decline is Colin (son of Tom) Hanks, who likewise brings real warmth to Howard’s beleaguered road manager, Troy, a soft-faced everyman. Family friendly (or at least seriously PG), the film is also utterly formulaic and totally safe, right down to the love interest (Emily Blunt’s spot-on Valerie). But the details are real (of course the flighty Valerie is a publicist), the humor is sharp and self-aware, the celebrity cameos are done right (Michael Winslow! Jonathan Ames!), and voiceovers, montages, and other editing gimcracks are tight. Writer/director Sean McGinly neither delves into Howard’s vast sadness, nor allows it much darkness, but lets it wash gently over the film, entertainment more than heartbreak. Just like Buck.