(Thanks to TV Magic Guide for the listing.)
Do not continue reading if you don’t want your later experience of the film to be irreparably pre-molded.
It was an enjoyable, nicely paced film based on the life of The Amazing Kreskin. John Malkovich is, as always, fun to watch. It has some excellent plot twists (a major effect goes right and wrong at the same time in a ridiculous way that I especially appreciated as a news reporter) and is, on the whole, satisfying.
And here’s the part for people who have already seen it. If you want to chime in, that would be great.
We never learn what makes The Great Buck Howard tick. Our narrator never really takes us behind the curtain. There’s a telling scene when the narrator, Troy’s (Colin Hanks), dad (Tom Hanks) comes to confront him about dropping out of law school to become Buck’s assistant. Buck steps in, and indicates his dad wanted him to be an accountant.
We learn Buck’s manager Gil (Ricky Jay) is the only person in his life.
And the ending says a lot about Buck’s character and why he does what he does even if the reasons aren’t crystal clear.
But we never go deeper than these sorts of things. Buck is a great (The Great) character, but he never feels like a real person because there’s so much we have to guess about him.
That’s not because of Malkovich’s acting. I just wanted one scene where the layers of Buck are really peeled back.
Case in point: There’s this inexplicable running gag of sorts with people inquiring as to whether Buck is gay. His assistant doesn’t know. We never find out. It’s not important, but knowing something about his personal relationships — even if it’s why doesn’t have them — would have been nice.
In a sense, it’s appropriate that Buck remains an enigma.