Uncle Buck (1989)

uncle_buckTaking a brief detour from the spate of weird and wonderful films I’ve been curating all summer long, I think it’s time I turned my attention to a more familiar film, in this case that would be the much-beloved Uncle Buck. Given the fact that I dislike John Hughes, I rarely say anything positive about his filmography, and this film would perhaps be one of those rare exceptions. Perhaps it’s down to me being so familiar with it, but I have a certain appreciation for Uncle Buck, mainly because it was a sincerely humorous film with plenty of heart and character.

Of course, I think we’re all familiar with the premise. John Candy plays an unemployed slob who drives an old, broken-down vehicle and makes a living betting on rigged horse races, and he’s asked by his middle-class brother to look after his children. Buck proves to be more of a competent legal guardian than he looks, entertaining the children and doing his best to earn the respect of the eldest daughter.

I always thought the film had good writers behind it, but I think the writing didn’t truly grow on me until some years later. To date, I’ve seen this four times, and believe it or not, this family-oriented comedy is still fresh. I am still a little disappointed that there’s no scene in the whole film that plays out like the poster. That would be quite a sight indeed. I think part of why Uncle Buck enjoyed better writing than other John Hughes films is that unlike most of his films, Uncle Buck revolves around the family rather than the kind of narcissistic teen drama that makes up the bulk of Hughes’ reputation.

Of course, it’s very easy for one particular character to steal the show, and in this case that’s the eponymous Uncle Buck. For the most obvious reasons he’s the highlight of the film. He may be irresponsible, and he may be a bit crass at times, but when he wants to be, he’s a very entertaining character. This film would be incredibly bland and typical if the character it was named after weren’t incredibly funny. The acting is also really good, with the main cast delivering some convincing performances from left and right, and the characters that matter are a joy to watch. I should also mention Jean Louisa Kelly’s performance as Tia, the Russell’s eldest daughter. At first, she came across as a typically bratty and pessimistic teenage caricature, but later on she develops to the extent where you can see why she acts the way she does, and she comes out a better character by the end of it.

The film’s production values are also worth mentioning. Maybe it’s just that I have a thing for the film’s autumn aesthetic (this being the film’s setting), but I thought it looked really good, and the soundtrack was good as well, but that doesn’t matter compared to whether it was funny, and thankfully it was. Whatever my reasons, Uncle Buck is a movie that I consistently enjoy whenever I happen to watch it. Whatever you thought of the film’s director, I think most of us can agree that this film, with its affable lead actor and rock solid writing, Uncle Buck remains an enjoyable family comedy for the ages.

  • Score: 84%
  • Grade: B
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