Feature

The Great Buck Howard

In this nicely understated comedy, John Malkovich plays Buck Howard, a once famous mentalist who tries to wow America again and regain his fame.

The Great Buck HowardDirected by Sean McGinly(PG)

***

A once-hot mentalist struggles to become relevant again.

The Great Buck Howard is a “wee charmer that left me enchanted,” said Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly. In this nicely understated comedy, John Malkovich plays Buck Howard, a once famous mentalist who tries to wow America again and regain his fame. Loosely inspired by the Amazing Kreskin’s life story, the film embraces a love for “kitsch, the backwaters of showbiz, and true magic.” Director Sean McGinly “gives the loopy Malkovich the showcase he deserves.” But he never lets the actor—or the film—reach full potential, said Dan Zak in The Washington Post. The story has all the makings of “biting satire,” and Malkovich has the canniness needed to pull that off. But McGinly settles for a cheery, sentimental comedy rather than a “darker, more madcap” account of the entertainment industry. The film does have a “serious side,” said Duane Byrge in The Hollywood Reporter. McGinly’s point isn’t so much about the nature of showbiz as it is about the “notion that there is still magic in this world.”

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