Box art for The Great Buck Howard

The Great Buck Howard

  • Rated PG

independent, special interest

Once upon a time, Buck Howard (John Malkovich) spent his days in the limelight. But nowadays, it's clear to everyone but Buck that his act has lost its luster. Yet, he perseveres, convinced his comeback is imminent.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 12
2 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
1 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
2 out of 5
1 out of 5

Offbeat magic comedy isn't likely to get kids' attention.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that although this eccentric comedy is fairly tame when it comes to language and nudity, it's probably not on most kids' radar. Still, tweens and teens who are into magic might actually find it interesting, though the movie's life lesson -- love what you do -- doesn't always come across clearly. Expect a bit of drinking and kissing, as well as some loud arguments and rudeness and tantrums from the main character.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about who the movie's target audience is. It's rated PG, but does that automatically mean that it's for kids?
  • Is there a good message to take away from the movie?
  • What, if anything, does Troy learn from Buck -- and vice versa?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: A modest snapshot of a performer.

- Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle, Friday, April 3, 2009

Rotten: What Malkovich really needs are actors opposite him with a few more tricks up their sleeve.

- Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times, Friday, March 20, 2009

Fresh: Any synopsis of The Great Buck Howard is going to make it sound more than a little like My Favorite Year. ... But that film had a compellingly poignant center.

- Bob Mondello, NPR, Friday, March 20, 2009

Audience Reviews

3 stars

Buck Howard: I love this town! This is a very simple movie, but a likable one. Things are generally very simple when you have Collin Hanks involved and that's pretty much the case here. This is an enjoyable and nice little film about a young guy trying to find his way and an older magician trying to keep his show going. Hanks plays Troy Gable, a guy who has decided to ditch his father's (Tom Hanks, Hey!) goal for him to become a lawyer, and instead takes a job as an assistant for "The Great Buck Howard," played by John Malkovich. Buck is an old fashioned magician, who's greatest claim to fame was having been on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 61 times. Now, Buck still travels the country, performing the same act, which is both very cheesy but also an old kind of show that has a lot of variety and some seemingly genuine magic, as his signature trick involves finding the money he is to be paid that night, which is hidden somewhere in the audience. The film is basically about Troy's travels with Buck, who is of course an eccentric character, made even better by the fact that it's Malkovich barely containing his rage, as usual, but still in a nice guy role. The two have their quarrels, but also meet others along the way including Steve Zahn as a big fan of his. There are also supporting parts from Emily Blunt as a media consultant and love interest for Hanks, Ricky Jay as Buck's agent, and even a small part for my boy Adam Scott. The movie is PG and only lasts about 85 minutes. It has a nice charm to it and is largely inoffensive to anyone. It's a fun watch and Malkovich is very good here. Buck Howard: That's distilled water. I'm not an iron.

- DrZeek, Tuesday, August 31, 2010

3 stars

Colin Hanks, John Malkovich, Tom Hanks, Emily Blunt, Adam Scott A young man, much to the chagrin of his father, becomes the new assistant to an illusionist in decline.. Good but not great. I really like Colin Hanks. He was really good in this movie. Loved seeing him and his father Tom Hanks work together. Would love to see them in another film, but something more of drama maybe. Emily Blunt was good. Liked her character. Just OK for me. Nothing to special besides the performamces. Would watch it just for that.

- LWOODS04, Sunday, December 13, 2009

4 stars

I love this guy and i love this movie even more. A wickedly hilarious and very smart comedy that delivers plenty of great laughs and smarts, John Malkovich is absolutely brillliant, giving a wonderful and very funny performance. Colin Hanks is fantastic. This is a great film. So many great laughs that you have to see it twice.

- allan913, Sunday, August 9, 2009