Uncle Buck (1989)

DVD Cover (Universal)
Genres: Comedy, Domestic Comedy
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John Hughes John Hughes
John Candy John Candy
Jean Louisa Kelly Jean Louisa Kelly
Gaby Hoffmann Gaby Hoffmann
Macaulay Culkin Macaulay Culkin
Amy Madigan Amy Madigan

7.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: April 17, 2007
Since my fellow reviewer for this site seems to have been on a bit of an eighties kick lately, I figured that I might as well throw my hat in the ring and take a look at a classic as well. I seriously debated breaking out the Troll / Troll 2 double-feature and treating you readers to my thoughts on that, but I've been reviewing almost nothing but horror for the last couple of weeks. So, here we are with a comedy featuring the late, great John Candy in what is quite possibly his second-best role ever (and if you don't already know the film that tops that list, well... for shame).

The story picks up when a suburban couple is forced to leave their children (Jean Louisa Kelly, Gaby Hoffmann, and Macaulay Culkin) home while they attend family issues in the next state over, and considering that they had to leave at two in the morning with no type of advance notice, the list of people that they can call on to watch the kids is rather short. The only person who will agree to do it is Uncle Buck (John Candy). On the surface, Buck is not the type of man that you'd want to watch your kids for a couple of weeks: he drinks heavily, he smokes cheap cigars, he's unemployed, and he's extremely obnoxious. However, being in the bind that they are, they're forced to turn the parenting duties over to him while they're gone, and it turns out that you really can't judge a book by its cover. Even though he's constantly arguing with the oldest daughter over her social life while dealing with his own romance issues with his on-again / off-again girlfriend Chanice (Amy Madigan) and overlooking the fact that he doesn't know the first thing about responsibility, he turns out to have a heart of gold and eventually wins the kids over.

We all know somebody like Buck: he's the guy that everyone in the family tends to ignore and nobody really likes him for whatever reason, but you put on a happy face nevertheless whenever he's around for fear of hurting his feelings (even though it's blatantly obvious that you want nothing to do with him). John Candy does an excellent job at portraying this character without going over the top with it, and at the same time, he brings that style of humor that only he could to the table. There are countless scenes throughout the movie where, even after having seen it more times than I can remember, I still break out in tears of laughter. The scene in which he describes circumcising a gnat with a hatchet? How about the clown who showed up drunk to a birthday party? The numerous questions about suburban life ("How often do you feed a dog like that?"), his bumbling ways, and his overall charm made this an instant classic.

Even the children who were involved with the movie pulled their weight. I normally hate watching kids attempt to act in any sort of movie that is even remotely targeted to adults: almost every time that it happens, the little brats end up ruining the movie with their inept acting skills and their general presence. Not here. Jean Louisa Kelly plays the pissy teenage girl role to perfection, and there are plenty of moments throughout the film where you'll find yourself calling her a bitch out loud for her actions and general mannerisms... but then, the payoff with this at the end is genuinely heartwarming. Gaby Hoffmann plays the cute little girl quite well, and although her part isn't very memorable, I honestly can't say anything negative about her inclusion. Finally, we have Macaulay Culkin, the little runt that would go on to achieve mega-stardom after being left Home Alone. This was his first major role, and after watching him interact with John Candy, it was plainly obvious that he'd be going on to do bigger things in the near future.

Uncle Buck is a highly-recommended classic, and if it weren't for Planes, Trains & Automobiles, it would be my personal favorite John Candy film. The man left behind more than a couple of great movies, and this one almost manages to top that list: if that's not an endorsement, then I don't know what is. 10/10.
Edd #1: Edd - added 04/17/2007, 02:22 PM
Besides Planes, Trains, And Automobiles, I can't think of a funnier John Candy movie. Kudos on such a great review of this cinematic masterpiece.
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 04/17/2007, 03:13 PM
Planes, Trains and Automobiles is so goddamn funny. It's so damn depressing though. I miss John Candy. As for this movie, I couldn't agree more. It's a comedic masterpiece. 10/10
bluemeanie #3: bluemeanie - added 04/18/2007, 11:06 AM
I have cried over the deaths of three celebrities -- John Ritter, Jim Henson, and John Candy. He was my favorite actor in the world when he passed away, and I still consider to be probably the greatest comedic actor of the 1980's, maybe even of all-time. He had this overwhelming warmth and likability that very few people possess -- something Adam Sandler couldn't touch with a ten foot pole. "Uncle Buck" is not my favorite John Candy film -- that would be a film I will be reviewing very shortly -- but it was still a classic John Hughes comedy that Candy played so very well. My favorite scene is when he busts the door down, thinking it is the room with his niece and her boyfriend. It's hysterical! I also love the dialogue with Macaulay Culkin. 9/10.
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #4: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 04/19/2007, 08:45 AM
I can recall hearing John Candy's death being reported on the news late one night as I had snuck out of bed trying to watch Tales From The Crypt. I feel kind of ashamed to say so now, but I think the only other movie I've seen starring John Candy is Spaceballs, despite the many times Comedy Central has shown Planes, Trains And Automobiles (I guess I'll definitely have to peep that sometime soon). As everyone else has said, this really is a golden comedy.
Man, I sure could go for some of those giant flapjacks right about now.
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