Uncle Buck Review

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When their grandfather has a heart attack and their parents have to rush out of town, three kids — snotty teen Tia (Kelly), sister Maizy (Hoffman) and brother Miles (Culkin) — are left in the care of their Uncle Buck (Candy), a 40-year-old disgrace with n


A sort of cut-price Parenthood from the pen and megaphone of John Hughes, and thus is funny, sentimental and pointedly moral, made very easy on sensibilities thanks to the hulking congeniality of John Candy. It’s the journey into adulthood once more that concerns glossy social commentator Hughes, here of a died-in-the-wool bachelor fully committed to the gospel of pizza and Bud, but through a rites-of-parental-passage will come to learn the value of family and pick up the tab on his faltering relationship with Amy Madigan.

Candy, who makes a charming asset out of his girth, works both ends of this trite deal considerably well. First, we have the trial by responsibility, as the big lummox causes mayhem in kitchen and laundry room. A fairly standard series of botched chores, turned into amusing skits by Buck’s furious determination not to be the great oaf he clearly is Pride, you see, is an issue. Naturally, the two small kids (one played by the still button-cute Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone) think he’s like Santa Claus with a gambling habit. This, though, is above all things a Hughes parable, and we will need some teen angst to truly prove his mettle. So, Buck will rub up against eldest daughter Tia (Jean Louisa Kelly) currently detained by a regulation rebellious period. The main thrust of the movie seems to be the point these two will come to respect one another, and culminates in a decent sequence where Buck comes to her rescue with a power drill.

It all adheres to Hughes’ limited worldview — that teens and families can be measured on some kind of sliding scale of good deeds and growing pains. Nonsense, basically, without any risk taking or taking up of the real potential for blacker comedy, but made beguiling and palatable by one of cinema’s big-boned greats.

Establishes John Hughes as one of the finest comedy directors currently at work in the movies.