Friday, March 20, 2009
The Great Buck Howard
Loosely based on the life of mentalist George Joseph Kresge Jr., known as "The Amazing Kreskin," director Sean McGinly's all-star cast comedy "The Great Buck Howard" (USA 2008 | 87 min.) is not only funny and entertaining, it also brings out fuzzy and warm sentiment.
Troy Gable (Colin Hanks) drops out of law school because he wants to find a dream before it's too late. He becomes the road manager for a hard-to-please stage artist — the Great Buck Howard (John Malkovich). The Great Buck Howard wants to give Troy a "life experience" starting with a clarification to Troy that he is a mentalist, not a magician: "I was a magician when I was 3 years old, but I evolved out of that. Not that I have anything against magicians, as long as they're dead."
After Troy meets a publicist Valerie (Emily Blunt, like Tina Fey's twin sister on screen) in Cincinnati, he begins to question his career choice, so does his father Mr. Gable, played by Colin Hanks's real life father Tom Hanks. Years later after Troy leaves Buck Howard, Troy realizes the great mentalist's impact on shaping his path to reach his dream — the Great Buck Howard strides a chord that continues to echo in Troy's mind.
John Malkovich's earnest performance as the Great Buck Howard is crucial to the success of this film — his violent handshake makes Jon Stewart beg for a "mental handshake" to replace the real one; his trademark shouting "I love this town!" makes him a memorable and interesting character.
Similar as in "For Your Consideration", the satire on the entertainment industry is quite entertaining in this film. Surprising appearances of numerous celebrities adds charming comic reliefs to the story.
Like a magic — or a mentalism act — the film transforms a seemingly obnoxious and arrogant aging performer into an charismatic and fascinating performing artist, who loves what he does and loves those towns he travels.