Random thoughts on most things from A. M. Craig.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Review: The Great Buck Howard

Well, I can check one item off my "To-Do-Before-You-Die" list. I went to a screening at Sundance.

Okay, so that makes it sound pretty cosmopolitan, which it wasn't. To be honest, a friend of mine got tickets to see the community screening the Sundance Institute hosts to let locals know how much they appreciate them letting the whole showbiz industry descend like locusts for a week at the beginning of each year. Real kind of them. They don't roll out the red carpet or anything, it was at a quaint one-screen theater in Kamas, half an hour from Park City. But it was great old fashioned fun, and a great flick too, The Great Buck Howard.

What, you've never heard of Buck Howard?

Well, most people haven't. Largly because he is fictitious, but I'm sure you're familiar with his breed. "The Great" Buck Howard (played by John Malkovich) is a washed up magician who still touts having rubbed shoulders with Johnny Carson and George Tikai (Sulu from Star Trek). He is the subject of many a "I wonder what ever happened to that guy." Don't mention his "has-been-magician" status, though. For one thing, he prefers "mentalist" to magician, and he is in complete denial that an old fashioned, aging stage magician...err...mentalist, isn't likely to be the next big thing.

His new stage manager, Troy Gable (played by Colin Hanks) is thrown into his new position before he can even recover from Buck's overzealous handshake. The charming Emily Blunt plays Buck's stand-in publicist, and Troy's on-the-road romance. Admirable supporting performances from Ricky Jay, Steve Zahn, and producer/leading Dad Tom Hanks round off the cast. The film focuses on Buck's failures and successes, the quaint towns he performs in (not unlike Kamas, a subtle joke from the Sundance Institute?) and the old vs. new brands of showbiz.

To get a feel for the style of The Great Buck Howard, imagine Orange County mixed with a bit of That Thing You Do, with a light spritz of the Office, Michael Scott type idiocy. Top with a drizzle of The Devil Wears Prada, and voila.

It's a fun, happy movie that will have you smiling the whole way through at Troy Gable's patience and Buck Howard's tunnel vision. If you get a chance, check this one out with some family and friends. You'll be glad you did.

P.S. During the writing of this review, I made my first ever addition/edition to Wikipedia. I am now officially part of the revolution.

UPDATE January 26 2008: A couple reviews to compare.
MTV Sundance Review 1 (short)
MTV Sundance Review 2 (still short)
Cinematical Review


Angela said...

Okay, is it really as good as those three movies, or is it just because the three actors are in those three movies?

Austin said...

It's actually like those movies, maybe in part because of the actors, but it certainly holds a similar feel.

Austin said...

Though not entirely because of the actors, because while Colin Hanks plays a similar role as he did in Orange County, Emily Blunt is a very different character than she was in The Devil Wears Prada, and Steve Zahn is much more like his character in Happy Texas than That Thing You Do.

pam said...

Nancy has an entertainment magazine that mentions this movie. Glad you liked it. I was hoping you would do a blog or two about what is going on in your new job. Anything to tell us about?