In honor of the upcoming reboot of John Hughes’ classic family comedy, “Uncle Buck”, I watched the 1989 original movie version in order to take a trip back down memory lane, as I hadn’t seen the movie since I was a youngster. Nevertheless, I was determined to view this flick from a more mature standpoint, and compare to how much my opinion of it since I last watched it.
Buck Russell (John Candy) is a slobby, yet amicable guy, who is unemployed, and is frequently nagged by his long-suffering girlfriend, Chanice (Amy Madigan) to find a real job, settle down with her and have kids. Buck, the “black sheep” of his family, is adamant that he doesn’t want to marry or have kids. But this mindset is changed when his brother Bob (Garrett M. Brown) calls him with an emergency- his wife Cindy’s (Elaine Bromka) father has suffered from a heart attack. Buck is left in charge of Bob and Cindy’s three children while they drive to help.
Buck soon acquaints himself with his nieces and nephew- inquisitive 10 year old Miles (Macaulay Culkin), adorable 6 year old Maizy (Gaby Hoffman) and Tia (Jean Louise Kelly), a typical sarcastic teenager. Although Buck hits it off immediately with the two youngest kids, cynical Tia makes Buck a prime target for her offbeat quips.
Buck soon busies himself doing the day to day household duties, whether it be microwaving Maizy’s socks following a mishap with a washing machine, making comically enormous pancakes for Miles’ birthday, or trying to protect Tia from her loathsome boyfriend, Bug, “as in spray” (Jay Underwood). Will Buck manage to get Tia to warm to him before her parents return?
“Uncle Buck” is a character that John Candy appears to be quite at home playing. Although Buck may seem to be a nutty ,cuddly teddy bear on the outside, he ultimately proves to be a watchful and vigilant protector when anyone dares to mess with his nephew or nieces. In my opinion, nobody else could have portrayed Buck to the perfection that Candy did here.
Offering fine support are Macaulay Culkin in a role not unlike his later famous role which catapulted him to fame, as Kevin McAllister in the first two “Home Alone” movies, (Fun Fact: in the scene where Miles is peering through the door flap at Chanice when she comes to call on Buck, and instead sees a trio of crooks, gave Hughes the idea to write a movie with that premise), Jean Louisa Kelly as his rebellious foil, and Amy Madigan as his no-nonsense girlfriend.
“Uncle Buck” gets three and a half stars out of five from me, due to its engaging plot and humor, mostly from the title character. However, parents should be warned that the content isn’t entirely family friendly, with swear words being uttered by kids and adults alike, and Buck smacking a drunken birthday party clown. There’s additionally talk of Tia’s repulsive boyfriend pressuring her to go all the way with him. Proceed with caution!