Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Malkovich goes mental in The Great Buck Howard

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 6:13 PM

click to enlarge SPIRIT FINGERS: John Malkovich as the Great Buck Howard
  • SPIRIT FINGERS: John Malkovich as the Great Buck Howard

Don't ever call the Great Buck Howard a magician. The title character of The Great Buck Howard, played by John Malkovich, prefers to be identified as a "mentalist." Old-school hypnotism and hints of telepathy anchor his old-fashioned stage act, along with threadbare jokes and a half-spoken rendition of "What the World Needs Now."

The Great Buck Howard tracks the flagging fortunes of a once popular entertainer, but stands apart from conventional showbiz spoofs such as For Your Consideration by identifying the butt of its jokes and source of its inspiration. Titles at the film's end respectfully explain that 1970s mentalist/entertainer the Amazing Kreskin served as the model for Buck. Writer/director Sean McGinly clearly feels affection toward the real Kreskin, even though the film mercilessly depicts Buck as a dinosaur in an entertainment industry shaped by focus groups and Internet journalists.

Malkovich delights in the role's unctuous brand of showmanship, and employs quirks such as a pumping handshake that calls to mind a taffy-pull machine. Continue reading "Malkovich goes mental in The Great Buck Howard"

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