Rating: 4.5 (2 votes)
Directed: John Hughes
Directed: John Hughes
Bachelor and all round slob, Buck, babysits his brother's rebellious teenage daughter and her cute younger brother and sister.
Movie ReviewsUncle Buck is the kind of comedy that one is on the fence of declaring it an oldie but a goodie. It's not a major yuck fest nor is it one of those Woody Allen snorers that are supposed to be complex character studies in the guise of a witty comedy. It's a John Hughes film and interestingly enough it's one of the early films that marked his divergance from angst-riddled teenage comedies to movies focusing on children and the adults who care for them. Also it's the penultimate movie that he's directed to date.
In this film's case, the adult is one Buck Russell (John Candy in one of his best roles), a confirmed bachelor, happy-go-lucky unemployed slacker with no wife or kids to worry about. When the film begins, his younger brother and his wife have to leave town suddenly because her father has had a heart attack in the middle of the night. They have three children, teenage daughter Tia (Jean Louisa Kelly) who has issues with her mother, and young Miles (Macaulay Culkin in his screen debut) and Maizy (Gabby Hoffman). Stuck without a babysitter, they reluctantly turn to Buck much to the disdain of his sister-in-law who detests his slacker ways. For Buck this is the perfect opportunity to get out of starting a new job at his girlfriend Chanice's tire company, which could be why he eagerly agrees to watch his brother's three children.
The scenes when he first arrives in the suburban home (Buck lives in downtown Chicago) are some of the funniest. Candy pulls off the well-meaning bumbling fool act to a tee. Just thinking about the part when he wakes up the neighborhood by going to the wrong house brings a smile to the face. There are plenty of sight gags in the film and they run from subtle to in your face, one of the best ones is Buck's old beat-up car whose backfires causes panic everywhere. Another one is the celebration of Miles' birthday where Buck bakes giant pancakes that need to be flipped over with a snow shovel. But the best sight gag that elicits genuine laughter is the spectacle of Buck doing the laundry. For some reason, he can't get the washing machine to work so he resorts to using the kitchen sink and the microwave. As this goes on he rigs up a hairdryer to blow dry wet clothes attached to a spinning ceiling fan. Moments like these makes one want to watch the film over and over again if only to fast-forward to those scenes.
Really funny scenes include Miles' rapid fire interrogation of his uncle, Buck being forced to sleep in bed with Miles and Maizy, and Buck crashing a wild teenage party as he looks for Tia and Bug. But in terms of best scene, this honor probably goes to when Buck meets with Maizy's stern school principal. The dialogue is quite funny and the editing amps up the comedy when the scene of their meeting is intercut with Maizy in class talking about her uncle and his washing of their clothes. It's a classic Hughes moment.
But this isn't a movie about solely about Buck's buffoonery and his hapless nieces and nephew caught up in his antics. The main conflict comes when his niece Tia tries to act like an adult and not pay attention to him. This includes her hanging out with her boyfriend Bug (Jay Underwood) who only wants one thing from her. Buck catches on this immediately and shows genuine responsibility and concern by trying to keep her away from him. As Buck and Tia clash heads, it becomes clear to the viewer that Buck begins to behave more like a mature adult and less like someone suffering from the Peter Pan syndrome.
His love for the children blossoms as the three grow closer. He comes to realize that having a family isn't the end of the world and comes to regret his lot in life. The question pops up towards the end of the movie as to whether or not it is too late for Buck to mend his relationship with Chanice and move forward in his life. This type of reflection is why the film is more than a simple comedy but it doesn't go too far in that direction either, it's a nice balance. - - J.L. Soto