Uncle Buck (1989)

uncle buck poster 1989 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visual: 8/10

Classic John Hughes and John Candy

Kind of mundane

Movie Info

Movie Name: Uncle Buck

Studio: Hughes Entertainment

Genre(s): Comedy/Drama

Release Date(s): August 1, 1989

MPAA Rating: PG

uncle buck macaulay culkin interrogates john candy

I’m just audition for later, guy

Buck Russell (John Candy) is a lifelong bachelor despite pleas from his long suffering girlfriend Chanice (Amy Madigan) to settle down.  When Buck’s sister-in-law’s father has a heart attack, Cindy Russell (Elaine Bromka) and Bob Russell (Garrett M. Brown) have no options but to call on Buck for help.  Now, Miles (Macaulay Culkin) and Maizy (Gaby Hoffmann) are meeting their uncle for the first time in their memory, but their older sister Tia (Jean Louisa Kelly) isn’t taking the heavy handed approach to babysitting by “Uncle Buck” sitting down…it could be war!

Written and directed by John Hughes, Uncle Buck is a family comedy-drama.  The movie was released to mixed to positive reviews but became a fan classic like many of Hughes pictures.

I was never the biggest Uncle Buck fan.  There was nothing wrong with it, but compared to other John Candy movies and other John Hughes movies, it was always rather mundane.  While I stick with that assessment, I will say the movie has grown on me a bit with age, and it is a nice “retro” watch for those who haven’t seen it in years.

uncle buck marcie dancing laurie metcalf john candy

Ain’t no party like a Marcie dance party

The story is more saccharine than some of Hughes other things.  The edge of the movie is probably taken off by the PG rating and the targeting of family viewings, but it the social commentary in some of Hughes other films that it feels like Uncle Buck is missing.  The story is solid, but predictable and unfolds just as you’d expect.

John Candy is great in the role, but he wasn’t the first choice.  Danny DeVito was meant to be Uncle Buck, but Candy stepped in and it probably was a better fit.  Macaulay Culkin charms as Buck’s young nephew (which helped him get Home Alone) and Gaby Hoffman is also a classic kids actor from the period.  Jean Louisa Kelly does come off as the “too cool kid” in a believable fashion, but she is slightly older than her character and even a year matters at that age.  Laurie Metcalf is underused and there is a blink-and-you-miss-her appearance by Culkin’s My Girl costar Anna Chlumsky as a girl sitting next to Gaby Hoffman in class.

uncle buck john candy drill

Uncle Buck goes insane and kills everyone at the party…

The movie has the typical John Hughes look.  This too wasn’t meant to be (the film was supposed to be set in St. Louis).  Both St. Louis and Chicago are odd choices for me since it is only about three hours to Indianapolis (probably closer to four where they are living), and it doesn’t seem like it would be a both parents go and stay type of moment…it seems like it would have made more sense if it was cross country.

Uncle Buck is kind of an odd movie.  It tries to balance sentimentality with really inconsistent sight gags.  This isn’t unusual for Hughes (Home Alone is full of that especially), but it seems to be playing the line a bit harder as a drama…so it doesn’t work as well when John Candy goes flying across the room from a door to the face.  Uncle Buck did not “die” with this movie.  A short lived Uncle Buck series starring Kevin Meaney aired from 1990 to 1991 on CBS and a second TV series starring Mike Epps aired on ABC in 2016.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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