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When a law school dropout answers an advertisement to be a personal assistant he unknowingly signs on to work for a belligerent has-been magician struggling to resurrect his career. This leads to a journey across the country staging the comeback of a lifetime.
Colin Hanks, a recent graduate in journalism, is searching for a job when he comes across a Magician's Apprenticeship position in the local paper. He attends the interview for the position at a local diner, where he meets and is struck by the Great Buck Howard (John Malkovitch), a waning magician. Although skeptical of Buck and desperate for a job, he is convinced that helping Buck will be an exciting change from his ordinarily mundane life. From city to city, Buck always impresses the small town crowds, which is seemingly the motive for his continuing career. After learning the ropes, Colin continually runs through the motions of Buck's routine and alcoholic personality. After Colin tires of the repetition, Buck attempts an overwhelming magic spectacle to regain his long forgotten legacy. In the process, Colin finds the love of his life and proceeds to break Buck's golden rules. After the ensuing drama with Buck and his dad (Tom Hanks), Colin continues along his path with Buck, against his father's wishes. Buck then starts a Vegas magician life, which he soon scraps with an intentional faux pas in his routine. He has a revelation that he only wants to demonstrate his magic to the people who genuinely care about his routine. Meanwhile, while Buck remembers his calling, Colin discovers how to demonstrate his compassion towards his recently discovered soulmate. In turn, Buck relinquishes his dream of a glorious Vegas lifestyle and Colin foregoes his show biz lifestyle to live what he considers a better life with his soulmate.
I really don't want to criticize this movie too much. So many people involved in this movie are people that I genuinely like. And I think that's true for nearly all of us; we like great talents like John Malkovich, Emily Blunt, Steve Zahn and Tom Hanks. Good people who have given us great work.
In this case, the real problem is that this is a boring story. I sat through the entire film with my wife and a packed house, and there was much squirming all around. There was something very amateurish about the movie, as far as the direction and writing, and it was terribly predictable. My wife said, "Why would they make this movie? It was so boring!" I wanted to disagree, because I'd give it a three while she gives it a q, but the truth is that this was like watching a bunch of people you like not have a good time.
Malkovich does his best to make his character more interesting than written, as does Emily Blunt who has the misfortune of being thrown in randomly and forced to do things just for the sake of story. Steve Zahn, who is always good, struggles to make his dull material interesting. In the end, they were all fighting against the same problem. This is a simple story with no conflict or tension or drama or comedy that telegraphs itself every step of the way. The characters are underwritten and uninteresting, and we're left with talented actors doing their best with weak material.
I would not recommend seeing this movie, even for free. It's not worth the time you need to invest. And I really wish that I didn't have to say that, because I really wanted to like this movie.
Runtime: 87 minutes long Genre: Comedy/Drama Director: Sean McGinley Writer: Sean McGinley Stars alongside: Colin Hanks as Troy Gabel, B.J. Hendricks as Burly, Jacquie Barnbrook as Sheila Haller, Ankur Bhatt Emily Blunt as Valerie Brennan, Griffin Dunne as Johnathan Finerman and Patrick Fischler as Michael Perry.