Uncle Buck

1989

Uncle Buck

Critics Consensus

Uncle Buck has its ups and downs, but there's undeniable comedic magic that comes from uniting John Hughes, John Candy, and a house full of precocious kids.

61%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 23

76%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 199,877
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Movie Info

In this cheerful, lightweight comedy, excruciatingly clumsy, disorganized, and messy Uncle Buck Russell (John Candy) becomes the screens most unlikely babysitter since Clifton Webb in Sitting Pretty. While their parents are away, eight-year old Miles (Macaulay Culkin), six-year old Maizy (Gaby Hoffman) and their teen-aged sister, Tia (Jean Kelly) are left in the care of Buck. Surprisingly, the very inept Uncle Buck entertains the younger children who come to love him and earns the respect of Tia when he rescues her from her worthless boyfriend. However, in doing so, Buck nearly loses his long-time girlfriend Chanice (Amy Madigan). John Candy is delightful in the leading role giving a touching and notable comic performance. Directed by John Hughes in his typical broad style, this youth-oriented comedy is perhaps the best role of John Candy's regrettably brief career. ~ Linda Rasmussen, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Uncle Buck

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (9)

Audience Reviews for Uncle Buck

  • Apr 23, 2017
    Here's a comparison that no asked for that I'm gonna do anyway. I don't know, I don't usually care to read forums, it's just not what I like, but I'm assuming there's some people out there (because there's always at least ONE person) that feel that Kevin James is this generation's version of John Candy. I even shudder to compare the two and I feel dirty even mentioning the two in the same sentence. While I completely disagree with this assessment, I can sort of see why some might think that. Both typically play (or played in Candy's case) a fat, jovial man who was, typically, just trying to do the right thing. So far, so good. I can see that. Where I come to disagree is the fact that, quite frankly, Kevin James is a horrible comedic actor. There's just no way around it. He gives off the appearance of being likable, but it's clearly a farce. That's not the problem though, the problem comes in the fact of Candy's comedic style versus James' style. The latter relies almost entire on 'fatty fall down' slapstick comedy or, generally, just making fun of the fact that he's fat (watch Grown Ups 2 for this). He also does not have the best timing or delivery. Candy, on the other hand, while I'm not saying the fact that he wasn't fat wasn't used to, maybe, poke fun at him a little bit, he didn't rely entirely on that. Candy had great presence, timing and delivery. He knew what to say and when to say it. And that's the difference between the two and why, really, they should never be compared to one another. John Candy would be offended at this. The closest thing we have to John Candy in this generation is Melissa McCarthy, though McCarthy isn't afraid to do raunchier stuff where she's kind of a dick to people. Damn, I miss John Candy so much. Anyway, on to this flick. This is another one of those movies that I remember seeing bits and pieces of on TV, but I never actually saw in its entirety. Well, actually, I do believe I saw it when I was younger, like maybe when was from the ages of 8-13, but it's been so long by this point (I'm 29), that it's almost like I'm watching it for the first time. I'm honestly surprised that, before this movie, John Candy's transition to film hadn't exactly translated to box office success. So, realistically speaking, while he was part of some memorable films, his 'success' as a box office draw wasn't even that long, since the 90s up until his death weren't great for the guy. Anyway, that's neither here nor there. What did I think of the movie? Much like Big, a film I reviewed a couple of days ago, I enjoyed this movie. I think I actually enjoyed it more than Big. Problem with Big, as much as I did enjoy it, was that I felt it wasn't as consistent with its comedy and that held it back, a bit, to me. This movie, while certainly not perfect, is more consistent as it relates to comedy. The story set-up is fairly simple and straightforward, you've certainly seen a variation of this movie before and since. The basic gist of it is that Uncle Buck comes over to his brother's and sister-in-law's house to take of their children while they go back home as the sister-in-law's father has had a heart attack. Uncle Buck is irresponsible and has no job, so the sister-in-law is worried that having take care of the children could end up disastrously. Buck has no time winning over the youngest children of the house, Miles and Maizy, he has a harder time with Tia, the typical 80s angsty teen. Tia, for one reason or another, hates her mother. Tia's anger is as a result of the fact that they moved from Indianapolis to Chicago (at least I believe they do), but there's no real reason outside of that. I get it, teens are dicks sometimes (and I've been watching 13 Reasons Why too, so I've gotten my fill of asshole teens), but there's no depth to Tia. She's just a dick because she is. This is a John Hughes comedy, so I can't fault him for being one-dimensional about his characters, but Tia is really kind of a detestable character that you legitimately don't like. And I don't mean that in the 'this is fake and I'm suspending my disbelief' kind of way, I mean in the 'I just wish she would go away' kind of way. But, you know the reason the character is like that. It's done so Uncle Buck's kindness and wise words can turn Tia into a loving daughter once again. Again, this is something you've seen before and will see again, but I didn't mind it because this movie was quite good. I thought it was a funny movie, the most memorable scene being between Macaulay Culkin asking a lot of consecutive questions and Buck just answering them in quick succession. It sounds silly writing it out, but it is a funny scene. There's some a very sexually suggestive scene here with Buck and Chanice (his girlfriend) discussing Buck's nicknames for several of Chanice's private parts. The scene ends with Buck saying Felix is what we called your...and then it cuts away as we hear a cat yowling outside the house. I was certainly surprised by this joke. Don't get me wrong, it was a pretty fucking great joke in how clever it was, but I'm surprised that they got this through in a PG movie. By this time, PG-13 had already been put into place, so it's not like there wasn't a rating for them to go with. Nowadays you get an instant PG-13 rating if you look at someone with intent to kill. Your movie might not even have any cursing or any other "questionable" material by the MPAA, but they'll give you a PG-13 for a fart and an R-rating for one instance of someone using the word fuck. The fact that they got a subtle PUSSY joke (that only the adults and some teens) would get past the MPAA was pretty great. There was another instance of this, with the washing machine scene where Marcie, Buck's family's neighbor) comes in and thinks Buck is talking dirty to a woman as they're having sex. The pussy joke is more memorable though, but they do mention putting loads in, so there you go. A tip of the hat to who ever convinced the MPAA to give this a PG rating with those two jokes in. You, sir or madam, are the real MVP. But I digress, I really liked this movie. It's a lot of fun to watch. The casting is great, though the characterization of Tia left a lot to be desired in some parts, and the film is lighthearted and funny enough for me to give this 3.5 stars instead of 3. It's not perfect, but it's one of those movies that will, most likely, keep being good no matter how many times you watch it. Or if you watch it 1000 years from now. Like I said, that doesn't mean it's perfect, but it's got a timeless quality about it. I'd certainly recommend this if you haven't yet seen it.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Apr 29, 2014
    "We're so sorry, Uncle Buck, we're so sorry if we caused you any pain". Yeah, sorry to all you many Wings fans and you one guy who enjoys my song references, I'm kind of low on material, kind of like John Hughes was at this point. Shoot, I don't think anyone or anything ran out of material faster than this film's spin-off TV series, although, in all fairness, I didn't actually watch any of that, like everyone else. Man, this film somehow got more attention than the TV show, but then again, this film might just not seem like received that much attention because it's not quite as memorable as something like "Planes, Trains & Automobiles". Nevertheless, John Hughes was not yet finished with John Candy, because as well-known as Hughes is for the youths, he had to have his working relationship with Candy stick around long enough to at least have a family-oriented title attached to it. This film is so deep into themes about weird family dysfunction that it stars Macaulay Culkin, and it predates "Home Alone", so you know that it's the real classic stuff... even though it came out only a year before "Home Alone". So yeah, this is family dysfunction for the whole family to enjoy, even though it's not especially memorable, what with its thin story. While it has that classic hint of seriousness which characterized John Hughes' "comedies", this film's narrative is nothing of tremendous consequence, limiting potential something fierce, despite the occasional dramatic attempt that often isn't even believable enough to ring true. Like many of Hughes' efforts, the film tries pretty hard to keep relatively grounded for a fluff piece, and that makes it harder to ignore lapses in believability, not just in its sentimentality, but in certain comedic set pieces that go too far over the top to gel with more grounded comedic moments. The inconsistency in the magnitude of fluffiness is unnerving enough, and to make matters worse, when the fluff goes to its extreme heights, it gets there on the back of cheese, which seems to talk down to audiences through a lack of subtlety that is also reflected in moments of sentimentality, until contradicted by more subdued aspects which tend to be too subdued to be all that exciting. Believability is uneven, tone is uneven, and even subtlety is uneven, and as if that's not enough, there's also a certain unevenness to pacing, which is generally tight enough to sustain entertainment value on the whole, until broken by dry and draggy spells in Hughes' storytelling which, in comparison with the smoother spots in pacing, are nearly dull, and decidedly detrimental to a sense of momentum. There are plenty of aspects to this film that are blanding, but really, what blands things up about as much as anything is the final product's lack of originality, because as a late '80s/early '90s style family comedy, if not dramedy, it's nearly nothing new, and nothing less than hopelessly predictable. As if it's not enough that the story is thin by its own right, it's unrefreshing, and that, combined with the unevenness, defuses much of the final product's steam, until it collapses as what I've been saying it is: kind of forgettable. Still, while the film occupies your time, it occupies your attention adequately, for it's not as though Hughes was all that rusty this far along in his career, at least as a director. John Hughes gets to be both too ambitious and a little lazy, but mostly as screenwriter, because as director, despite his issues, he turns in yet another relatively realized directorial performance, whose subtle technical proficiency and tight script interpretation sustain a fair degree of lively momentum, broken by more thoughtful moments in pacing which, while often blanding, give the feel of the film some tasteful range. As much as I criticize the inorganic incorporation, if not the sentimentality of certain dramatic touches, they're very rare, and when they do come into play, they're kind of touching in their putting dynamicity to tone and reinforcing some worthy themes. Unoriginal and thin, this portrait on overcoming family dysfunction through anything from shenanigans to trial and error does not offer an especially memorable narrative, but its story concept is still colorful, with a solid emphasis on worthy characters, made so engaging by their portrayers. Well, it's hard to get invested in the lovely, young Jean Louisa Kelly's teenaged Tia Russell character, who is ultimately redeemed, but just so startlingly unlikable throughout the body of the film that not even the then-newcoming Kelly's decency can compensate as much as it ought to, yet outside of that role, most everyone fulfills his or her role pretty sharply, but not like leading man John Candy, whose classic charm is overwhelming, and whose down-to-earth presence proves to be endearing in its crafting an endearing lead who may very well be more memorable than the film itself. Candy could have carried the flawed, but loving uncle role a little over the top, but instead he carries the film by approaching such a conventional role in a refreshing and likable fashion that sells material as best Candy can. However, that's not to say that the material that Candy and his peers has to work with is all that challengingly flat, for although Hughes is more inspired as director than he is as writer, his humor is generally pretty effective, and his weightier touches, while jarring and sometimes a little sentimental, have enough heart to them to freshen up a generally formulaic narrative with range and genuineness. It's a little traditional of an affair for the family dramedy crowd and John Hughes followers, but this film takes enough worthy notes from its formulaic books to endear as entertaining and sometimes touching, just not especially memorable. Overall, a thin story's momentum is further shaken by an inconsistency in story believability, cheesy spells, and an unevenness in pacing which blands things up about as much as a lack of originality, thus making an underwhelming final product which is carried enough by thoughtful and sometimes touching direction, endearing performances - especially a worthy leading one by John Candy - and charming writing to make John Hughes' "Uncle Buck" a reasonably entertaining, if underdone portrait on family. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jun 10, 2013
    Uncle Buck is a good comedy from John Hughes, but it is not his best work. John Candy is good here and he brings his zany humor to an average script. I enjoyed Uncle Buck, but compared to other films that Hughes has directed far superior films, and with Uncle Buck, we still see that magic that he has, but his ideas are somewhat lacking, and the film struggles in some areas with the material. There is enough funny bits to make this one worth seeing, and it is a fun and entertaining film that despite it's slow in parts, is never dull due to Candy's always loveable performance. John Hughes' direction is terrific, but at times you can clearly see where the film could have been improved on. Uncle Buck is really funny with a good story and worthwhile performances. If you're looking for a good family comedy to watch, then give this one a shot. John Candy is amusing here, and he makes so-so material better. For me the best collaboration between Hughes and Candy was Planes, Trains and Automobiles, but Uncle Buck still manages to have all the usual elements from a John Hughes movie. The film has a bit of drama thrown into the comedy as well, so you can expect something a bit serious, which is typical of a Hughes movie. Uncle Buck is funny, dramatic and warm hearted all in one movie. However John Hughes has made better movies throughout his career. Candy makes this worth seeing and it is an entertaining film, but it could have been a bit better as well.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Jan 31, 2013
    Charming and funny, Uncle Buck is a beloved John Hughes classic. A family outcast, Buck Russell is called upon during an emergency to look after his nephew and nieces, and hilarity ensues as he attempts to get along in suburbia. John Candy leads the cast and gives a brilliant performance that made Uncle Buck one of the defining characters of his career. And co-stars Jean Kelly, Macaulay Culkin, and Gaby Hoffmann all give strong performances as well (especially for child actors). But, it's Candy's magnetism and charisma that makes the film work and gives it its heart. One of John Hughes's best films, Uncle Buck is a wonderful and inspired family comedy that's full of laughs.
    Dann M Super Reviewer

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