The Great Buck Howard Directed by: Sean McGinly Cast: Colin Hanks, John Malkovich, Emily Blunt, Steve Zahn Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: R
Plot: Buck Howard used to spend his days on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show."
Who’s It For? For people who are sick of YouTube making everything "instant entertainment." And if you're obsessed with Malkovich, this let's you see him in a different, but still kooky, light.
Expectations: There wasn't a lot of buzz about this film at Sundance, so I decided not to think "great" just cause it was in the title.
Actors: Colin Hanks as Troy Gabel: A writer. Really? That's the job Troy wants. Not a lawyer like his father expects. His dad looks a lot like his real life dad Tom Hanks. Must be the lighting. Just like in Orange County, Colin Hanks is fine, but never much more. I just never feel the need to have him lead me on any sort of film adventure. Score: 4
John Malkovich as Buck Howard: It's like he tries hard to convince us he is funny in this role, but never manages to pull it off. Troy says he has a timeless charm, but that doesn't shine through with Buck. Buck's a magician/mentalist hell bent on remaining relevant. But the key is, we're supposed to be attached to this guy for some other reason than it's Malkovich behind the heavy handshake. Score: 5
Emily Blunt as Valerie: I don't get it. Do we love Blunt? We all took notice because of The Devil Wears Prada, but she's made some missteps as well (Dan in Real Life). Here, she drinks as Valerie and easily falls for Troy. That's about it. Score: 4
Talking: Any time Ricky Jay and his voice swing by, it helps the talking. What's odd is we spend one quick day getting to see Troy starting his job, and then boom ... he's on the road and on the job. Odd that his progression is done with a quick voice over. By the time Zahn shows up as a dim helper in Cincinnati, the movie just doesn't have any pop to it. Score: 4
Sights: Some of the small theaters are nice, and there are a surprising amount of celebrities willing to show up when Buck gets his big, second break in his career. Score: 5
Sounds: I know I should know the band playing in the bar ... OK, just got back from google. The band is Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Yeah, they're worth it. Score: 6
Malkovich stole my line. It's something to the affect of ... I wouldn't call it The Great Buck Howard, but if you put The OK Buck Howard, or The Not-so-bad Buck Howard on a marquee ... is it going to sell tickets? Malkovich tries but never creates an authentic character. Someone who has that big of an ego, doesn't have such an odd, laughable handshake. The parts just never add up. And Colin Hanks has had a couple chances, but never been the guiding force in a film. It's definitely possible, I just haven't seen it yet.
Final Score: 4/10