Comedy Film Comes To Sunrise May 21
BY MARILYN POWERS
Special to The Pilot
John Malkovich stars in "The Great Buck Howard," a comedy film that opens Thursday, May 21, at the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines. The film is "an agreeable show business satire with a warm heart," wrote Stephen Holden in The New York Times.
Written and directed by Sean McGinly, "The Great Buck Howard" was inspired by the career of George Joseph Kresge Jr., also known as the Amazing Kreskin. Kreskin, a professional mentalist, performed on television talk shows and other venues for decades.
The screenplay is based on McGinly's observations as road manager for the Amazing Kreskin and the film is dedicated to the entertainer.
In a performance praised by critics, Malkovich plays Buck Howard, a fading entertainer with a career similar to Kreskin's. When we first meet Buck, he is no longer a marquee act in Vegas. His appearances are in smaller venues, like supper clubs in Bakersfield, Calif., or Akron, Ohio.
"I love this town," he says enthusiastically at every stop, and listeners believe him every time. He constantly mentions that he was on the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson 61 times. Buck still appears as a guest on shows hosted by Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa, Jon Stewart, and Martha Stewart, all playing themselves.
Buck's routines at the half-filled houses include guessing secret numbers, hypnotizing patrons, and a "signature effect," where audience members hide the fee for his performance while he is secluded offstage.
Mr. Kresge boasted that he had failed only nine times in his career to locate the money. Buck's record, however, is perfect and no one has discovered how he does it.
The film's dramatic turning point is Buck's difficulty in finding the money at a Las Vegas lounge, where his manager Gil (Ricky Jay) gets him a booking.
Buck hires Troy Gable (Colin Hanks), a law school dropout and aspiring writer interested in show business. Tom Hanks briefly appears as Troy's dad. "The Great Buck Howard" is told from Troy's point of view. He narrates the story while following Buck from city to city. He carries bags, opens doors, presses pants, and deals with local representatives. For Troy and the viewer, Buck is "an impenetrable mystery."
Buck hopes to revive his career with a spectacular new illusion -- hypnotizing a room full of people. For his comeback try, he chooses Cincinnati with its supportive fans. Valerie (Emily Blunt), a New York publicist, is hired to round up reporters for the event.
"The Great Buck Howard" runs from Thursday, May 21, to Monday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m. Matinees are on Saturday and Sunday, at 2:30 p.m.
The film is rated PG for some language including suggestive remarks and a drug reference. It runs 87 minutes.
The historic Sunrise Theater is located at 250 Broad Street, in Southern Pines. Movies at the Sunrise are ad-free. Ticket prices are $7 for adults, $6 for matinees, and $5 for children under 12. Concessions, including beer and wine, are available.
For more information, call the theater at (910) 692-3611, or visit www.sunrisetheater.com.
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