Seeing today’s movie makes me realize that I really should get some more John Candy movies in my collection. Candy has always been one of my favorite comedy actors and I honestly can’t think of any of his movies that I have not enjoyed. Today’s movie is one that I remember seeing years ago and thinking it was good. Watching it again later, I still thought it was good and when I found a cheap copy on DVD, went ahead and bought it. So let’s relive everyone’s own visit with an unwanted relative with today’s movie, Uncle Buck.
The plot: High schooler Tia Russell comes home from school and is upset over the fact that her family has moved from Indianapolis to Chicago and she takes it out on her younger brother Miles and younger sister Maizy while being rude to their mom, Cindy, when she gets home. That night, Cindy and her husband Bob learn that Cindy’s father had a heart attack and they try to make plans to have someone watch the kids while they go see him. When their first choices are unavailable, Condy reluctantly agrees to let Bob call his brother Buck to watch the kids. Buck agrees to do it and after packing some things, he calls his girlfriend Chanice to tell her he won’t be at work in the morning, prompting her to yell at him, then makes his way to Bob and Cindy’s house, trying to remember the names and ages of his nieces and nephew. When he gets there, Buck mistakenly goes to the wrong house at first, accidentally waking up the neighbors, then tries to assuage Cindy’s fears at letting him stay and watch the kids. The next morning, Buck is making some breakfast for himself and the kids when Tia enters the kitchen and curtly answers Buck when he tries to talk to her. When Miles shows up, he is shocked to see Buck, and while Tia goes to help Maizy get ready, Miles proceeds to question him. Buck takes the children to school in his car, which is smoking due to an oil leak and backfires when it stops, causing all of the kids to stare at it. Tia is embarrassed by this and when Buck says he will pick her up she says that she will get a ride with friends but he insists he will pick her up or else intentionally embarrass her further the next day. AS he works on doing the dishes, Buck calls Chanice and attempts to patch things up with him but she is still angry, thinking that he is just using this as an excuse to not go to work for her. When Buck goes to pick up Tia, he sees her with her boyfriend Bug and takes an immediate disliking to him and commenting that he is simply a predator after they drive off. That night, Cindy calls to check on things and as Miles goes to get Buck, Tia speaks to her mom and tells her stories about what Buck has been doing. When Buck gets on the phone, he tells her everything is fine but has her even more worried when he asks her about the family dog. The next day, as Buck is trying to do laundry, Cindy’s friend Marcie Dahlgren-Frost walks in and thinks Buck is having sex with Cindy. After Buck explains away the confusion, Marcie invites him to lunch, as she was supposed to have lunch with Cindy, but Buck says he can’t and she gives him a rain check. That night, Buck takes the kids bowling, upsetting Tia as she was planning on going out with Bug. As they are at the alley, a guy named Pal tries hitting on Tia but Buck chases him off. When one of Buck’s friends shows up and mentions Chanice and Buck not marrying her, Tia starts questioning him about her, thinking if he was married he wouldn’t be embarrassing her so much. That weekend, Miles has a birthday party and Cindy had hired a clown but the kids all don’t want a clown there. When the clown gets there, Buck tries to get him to leave but when he learns the clown is drunk and refuses to leave, Buck ends up punching him. Later that night, Tia is at a gathering with Bug and some other high-schoolers when Buck shows up to bring her home, threatening Bug when he notices that people were drinking and Bug was about to drive with Tia in the car. Tia tells him not to worry as he will be gone in a few days, then kisses Bug goodbye. Later that night, Chanice calls to talk to Buck but Tia answers the phone and tells her that Buck is out with Marcie. The next day, Marcie comes by as Buck is doing laundry and gets him to dance with her when Chanice shows up and seeing them together, yells at Buck then storms off, not giving him a chance to explain. That night, as Buck is putting Miles and Maizy to bed, Tia calls out to Buck and mocks him for not being wanted by the family, then teases his bad day with Chanice. The next day, Tia decides to leave the house and go to a weekend party and when Buck finds out, he is upset as Tia was supposed to watch Miles and Maizy while he went to the race track. Buck decides to take Miles and Maizy with him, as the race he was going to bet on would set him up all year but as they are in the car, he thinks better of it. Buck calls Chanice and begs her to watch Miles and Maizy so he can go find Tia and he convinces her he is being sincere and she agrees to do it. Buck drives along, eventually finding the party and goes looking for Bug and Tia. When he finds Bug in a room with a girl, Buck drills the lock open and bursts in only to find that the girl isn’t Tia. Buck has a mixture of disappointment and relief that the girl isn’t Tia, then gets a smile on his face as he approaches Bug. Buck eventually finds Tia wandering the streets and when he calls out to her, she turns and says he was right about Bug. Buck goes to take her home and the two start to bond when he says that he won’t tell her parents what happened but thinks she should talk to her mom. When she asks about Bug, Buck reveals that he had duct taped him and put him in the trunk of his car and after scaring an apology out of him, they let him go, only for Buck to use a golf club to hit Bug with golf balls when he shouts out at them. Returning home, Tia talks with Chanice and apologizes for what she did to break her and Buck up, then tries to talk up Buck and let Chanice give him another chance. The next day, Cindy and Bob return home and when Condy walks through the door, she is confronted by Tia, who approaches and hugs her mom. Buck and Chanice say their goodbyes to everyone as they go to leave and as Bob and the others head inside the house, Tia stays outside and waves to Buck and he waves back.
Uncle Buck met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 61% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, many of them felt that it wasn’t one of John Hughes best films but it was helped by John Candy’s performance, with some saying it is one of his best. During the scene where Miles (Macaulay Culkin) interviews Buck (John Candy), Candy had the script’s dialogue written out and wore it on his head for Culkin to read so he could say the lines quickly and keep the pace. The scene with Miles interviewing Chanice through the mail slot is what gave John Hughes the idea for Home Alone, which starred Culkin. The movie was a box office success, earning $79.2 million off of a $15 million budget and a TV spin-off series was made in 1990 but it was not as well received as the movie and ended up being cancelled.
This isn’t your typical comedy but it is definitely a good movie. John Candy was great as Uncle Buck and his interaction with Jean Louisa Kelly (Tia) was fantastic. I also loved Macaulay Culkin (Miles) and Gaby Hoffman (Maizy) was also good and did a great job helping to show Buck’s growth in dealing with children. The story was good, with two main points of focus; a lot of teenage drama in Tia’s interactions with her family and Buck and Buck’s own growth as a more responsible person that can’t just do whatever he wants. The comedy that John Candy provided helped to give this a more light-hearted tone without completely watering down some of the more serious scenes in the movie, especially towards the end with Buck getting concerned for Tia and going looking for her. Not a full on knee slapping, gut busting comedy but definitely a movie that provides a good story and some good laughs to enjoy.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5