The Great Buck Howard (review)

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Kitsch is cool in this sad, sweet, funny ode to being oneself, no matter how dorky oneself is. Colin Hanks (The House Bunny) is Troy Gabel, a young man disillusioned with law school who drops out to figure out his life and takes a money job working as an assistant to the has-been stage magician Buck Howard. Now relegated to the community-theater circuit, Buck clings to his former fame — he appeared upmteen times on The Tonight Show (“with Johnny Carson,” Buck always hastens to add) — though, it must be said, his small following of devotees, mostly well over 60, still love him: he’s “cheesy,” Troy notes with wry approval, but he has “a timeless charm.” And then the fickle finger of pop culture touches Buck once more and threatens to ruin it all… Graced with a down-to-earth realism — writer-director Sean McGinly pulled a Troy-like tour of duty for the Great Kreskin, upon whom Buck is based — this chipper little flick goes down smoothly, thanks to John Malkovich (Burn After Reading), who’s on fire as the grouchy Buck; Emily Blunt (Sunshine Cleaning) as his snappy new publicist (the actress has rapidly made herself indispensable); and Hanks — son of Tom, who produces and has a small appearance here — who seems to have gotten a double dose of his father’s easy charm.

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