The Great Buck Howard
March 20, 2009
Movie of the Day for Sunday, November 16, 2008
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First, know that I had the urge to write this whole preview as though the post-That Thing You Do reuniting of Tom Hanks and Steve Zahn was the big story here. Oh, how it pains me to be serious.
Young Colin Hanks, son of current most beloved famous person in the world Tom Hanks, has not played the paternity card much in his career to date; aside from a small role in the aforementioned That Thing You Do, Colin and Tom have not appeared in anything together. Colin’s career has moved in dips and starts, without really catching on; a string of teen comedies led to the Jack Black comedy Orange County, and the success of TV roles on Roswell and Band of Brothers led to a part in Peter Jackson’s King Kong (once again, alongside Jack Black.) Since then, though, Colin has appeared in a number of low-rent thrillers and even a straight-to-DVD release or two.
His agent has seemingly put together a solid grab at fame in the form of The Great Buck Howard, forthcoming from Focus Features. Colin stars as Troy Gable, a law-school drop out who impulsively takes a job as an assistant to an aging but enchanting magician (John Malkovich as the titular character.) While the shows are half-empty and Gable isn’t getting rich off of it, the mystery and intrigue surrounding Buck Howard keep him on board.
This career choice comes much to the chagrin of Gable’s father…played by one Tom Hanks. Working on a Focus Features release is a bit below the grandeur of Hanks’ films this decade; with the exception of pet project Charlie Wilson’s War and Coen Brothers romp The Ladykillers, everything he’s been a part of for the past ten years has been a huge, tent pole release – The Da Vinci Code, Catch Me if You Can, Road to Perdition, Cast Away, The Green Mile, and so on. The project obviously looks intriguing, and Malkovich’s involvement adds to its caché – but one can’t help but feel that Hanks is trying to jump-start his son’s career, here.
Hanks is also giving a boost to young director Sean McGinley (Hanks’ Playtone production company is working with Focus,) previously seen helming the under-the-radar Paul Rudd film Two Days in 2003. McGinley also turns in the script. The film received a solid reaction and some good early reviews at its Sundance premiere back in January; whether that can transition to decent box office much later remains to be seen. Emily Blunt, who isn’t nearly famous enough yet, co-stars. (Sean Collier/BOP)