The Great Buck Howard charms audiences

Sometimes all a movie needs to attract an audience is charm, which The Great Buck Howard accomplishes thanks to its story and cast.

Colin Hanks, Tom Hanks’ son, plays Troy Gabel, a man who doesn’t know what to do with his life. He has recently dropped out of law school and isn’t sure how he is going to make ends meet. By answering an ad in the newspaper, Troy finds himself the road manager for the Great Buck Howard, a down-and-out mentalist/magician played by John Malkovich.

As Troy travels with Buck to small venues in small towns across the country, he begins to admire Buck and his corny act.

Troy has to deal with Buck’s diva qualities and anger, but he realizes that Buck does offer something truly genuine to his audiences-the hope that magic does truly exist in this world. Troy is particularly in awe of Buck’s finale, in which Buck never fails to find his performance fee that has been hidden in the audience.

In an attempt to boost his career, Buck plans to unveil a new trick in Cincinnati, in which he will put a room full of people asleep at once in front of the media.

Buck hires a famous New York publicist to manage the publicity for his event, but ends up with a replacement. Valerie, played by Emily Blunt, hates working for Buck and does not see why Troy still works for him.

However, Valerie and Troy hit it off, and Valerie succeeds in getting Buck his publicity.

Buck completes the trick but all of the reporters rush away to cover a bigger news story-Jerry Springer has been in a car crash. When Buck discovers that the reporters left, he instantly blames Valerie. Valerie decides to quit and give Buck the magazine article on him that shows just how much of a has-been he actually is.

The shock from the article in combination with the exhaustion from the performance causes Buck to collapse.

At the hospital, Troy realizes that he is all Buck has, which helps him understand why he can’t quit this job just yet. And Buck realizes that his career is really over.

However, the media did cover the event, and suddenly Buck is an immediate celebrity. His career takes off and he eventually lands a show in Las Vegas. Yet tragedy strikes and Buck’s career crashes as quickly as it resurged.

Eventually Troy learns that Buck has started doing his old show at his old venues again. Troy goes to visit him, to learn exactly what happened in Vegas. He watches Buck’s show for the first time, and he understands that Buck does truly represent the magic, no matter what happens.

Overall the plot of the movie is rather predictable, but sweet. Hanks is surprisingly convincing and charming in his role and Malkovich is spot on as usual. The supporting cast was also very good, particularly Blunt and Steve Zahn who plays a bumbling driver.

Additionally, the movie has several amusing cameos by famous talk show hosts including Jon Stewart, Conan O’Brien, and Jay Leno.
However, the appearance of Tom Hanks as Troy’s father seems a little unnecessary.

Instead of conveying the plot of the story, all this aspect of the film seems to do is emphasize that Tom is Colin’s father. It is difficult to believe the scenes between Tom and Colin because all that seems to matter is how they are related in reality too.

Yet, the charm of the movie makes up for the predictability and slightly amateurish script. For audiences who want a sweet and fun escape from reality, The Great Buck Howard is a wonderful choice.