Sunday, November 10, 2013

Uncle Buck

Original Movie Poster

Well here we are again with yet another look back at films from my childhood and of course we are right in the middle of looking at the films that were a little above the normal Disney animated canon and franchise based kid films that other kids my age were watching. I think because my parents had no restrictions or reservations when it came to movies as long as an adult was with me (mostly my dad or both parents) I could watch any movie they did (unless of course they just wanted to go out and see a movie together which I remember they did quite a couple of times). I don't really remember when I first saw Uncle Buck but I do believe that it was probably with my dad mostly because I believe this movie was more in his taste than my mother's because my father was a very funny man not unlike the late John Candy except my father looked more like Tom Selleck (but more on that some other time...)

Imagine Tom Selleck + this suit and face = my late father!

So...What's The Plot?
The Russell Family seem like average suburbanites moved from Indianapolis to Chicago, just one average neighborhood to another with two little kids, son Miles and daughter Maizy, and of course one sullen teenage daughter Tia. Moved away from her friends, Tia takes a lot of teenage angst out on her mother Cindy and it comes to a head when Cindy's father has a heart attack. With no one to look after the kids, Father Bob suggests that perhaps his brother Buck could help out during this time of family emergency but Cindy is none to thrilled with the idea. Buck is an unemployed gambler but he is a fun-loving goof who only seems to really suffer one flaw in having commitment issues with his girlfriend Chanice.

Buck arrives and of course hits it off with the younger children but now he gets to suffer the brunt of Tia's teenaged animosity. Unlike her mother, Buck dishes out just as much sarcasm and snark that leaves Tia to continually push his buttons in a battle of wills. Buck only seems to face one real problem with Tia: trying to keep her away from her punk boyfriend Bug who only wants to use her for sex. All hilarity comes to a stop when Tia leaves for a party and her Uncle Buck must finally face real responsibility for the first time to make sure she doesn't get hurt and her heartbroken. Will this be the thing to finally make Uncle Buck grow up and change all his ways?

Let's hope Buck keeps up the's fun!

I know it doesn't seem like much and even what I described of the plot doesn't sound much like a comedy but if you have never seen Uncle tell you anymore would surely spoil it for you. For those who have had the privilege to view this movie, you know just how hilarious Uncle Buck can get and what a great film this truly is. Now I don't really think there is an official soundtrack for Uncle Buck but the predominant amount of music that you here in the film is by that great nostalgic artist of the late 80s-early 90s Young MC who's biggest hit ever is "Bust A Move" which so dates how 80s this film is. Another musical tidbit that pops up a few times is Tone Loc's version of "Wild Thing" or more correctly an instrumental version that kind of serves as Uncle Buck's own personal theme which must be seen or heard to believe. A couple of other musical selections are some Perry Como in a bowling alley scene, the song "Laugh, Laugh" by The Beau Brummels which is one of my favorite little oldies that my mom would listen to on the radio in the car and a very cute scene which uses The Chordettes classic "Mr. Sandman" which today would probably creep kids out seeing as it's mostly used in horror films (for some reason I know not why...)

Coming to the acting portion we'll start with one big name and then end with another as we discuss what I think of the cast. First, Macaulay Culkin as Miles is just a big bag of hilarious cuteness! Watching this film which was his first major movie role at age nine, you could tell Macaulay was going to be star because not only was he cute and funny but he didn't really have to act like a kid considering he was a real child. The things I noticed with child actors is that they really either act too grown up or they seem really wooden in their delivery and Macaulay Culkin never seemed to do that. Since I was six when Uncle Buck came out, I must admit that I was kind of crushing on Macaulay Culkin which for me it is very rare since given my history I usually go for the older, foreign-accented type but he was adorable. I think the crush waned after I saw The Good Son and slightly returned when Richie Rich came out and has now all but vanished but my admiration of Macaulay Culkin's acting is still intact (ah the day I talk about the movie I truly love him in seems so far away...)

My next favorite character in the film is Tia so let's talk about her and the actress that plays her Jean Louisa Kelly. I think I love Tia because of course she gets as much focus as Uncle Buck and like the character of Miles ends up stealing a bit of the movie's focus because since Kelly was seventeen when the movie was made she can actually relate to being a teenager which doesn't make the acting a stretch. Today most people know Jean as Kim from the show Yes, Dear but did you know that she got her start as a theater actress and even starred on Broadway in a production of Stephen Sondheim's Into The Woods? Jean Louisa Kelly has a beautiful singing voice and there is evidence of that if you ever get to see Mr. Holland's Opus on TV sometime which caused me to do a double take because I mostly remembered her from Uncle Buck!

Jay Underwood as Bug with Jean Louisa Kelly as Tia

 I thought I would talk about Maizy and Chanice next because the actors who played them in Uncle Buck, Gaby Hoffmann and Amy Madigan respectively, both starred in the film Field Of Dreams a few months before this film was made. In that movie they were daughter and mother but here they get very little screen time together (spoiler) and the characters aren't related but they are both my next favorite characters in the film. Gaby was seven when she starred in this movie so like Macaulay as Miles she had a cute factor and six year old me thought we could be best friends so as she grew up into more mature roles being the same age as me I begin to appreciate her acting. I absolutely love Amy Madigan as Chanice because she can stand up to Buck for all the bull and bunk he gives her but even Chanice can fall to Buck's fun and witty charm and of course Madigan herself is a great actress who can do drama and comedy on an even playing field.

Amy Madigan as Chanice with young Macaulay and Gaby

The actors who play the Russell parents, Bob and Cindy, don't really get a lot of screen time so I don't really think they are important enough to talk about so the only other actors in the film to discuss are two semi-important characters. There of course is Tia's boyfriend Bug played by Jay Underwood who was memorable in the 80s in films such as Not Quite Human and the nostalgic classic The Boy Who Could Fly. He's an okay actor and quite cute in that jerk kind of way and he's probably as close to an antagonist character as we get. Another notable actor playing a kind of important character is Laurie Metcalf who almost everyone knows as Aunt Jackie from Roseanne. In Uncle Buck she plays a neighbor of the Russell family named Marcy Dahlgren-Frost who kind of develops a crush on Buck and since she is a divorced, upper class housewife she's more into country clubs than bake sales. Metcalf has been nominated for Tony Awards and has won three Emmys for her work on Roseanne so its clear she is a good actress and I have to admit I wish she had more scenes because when she plays off John Candy's Uncle Buck it's hilarious!

To make up for not enough video spoilers here's John Candy harassing a clown...

So of course we leave the best and biggest role for last as we talk about John Candy as Uncle Buck. I just love Uncle Buck and thought it was one of the late Mr. Candy's greatest comedic roles if not the greatest but there are so many films he is in that I love we could be here all day talking about him. Speaking of Candy himself as an actor he was one of the greatest that had to be taken too soon even though its been noted that obesity plagued him most of his life and might have been one of the reasons for his heart attack that claimed his life. Besides his movie roles John Candy was apart of my childhood thanks in part to his animated series Camp Candy which I use to watch a lot as a child that in part made me appreciate his film acting and opened my world to this talented and funny man. We really miss you, John Candy, and all the laughter you brought to us and I think most of us would have been honored to have a father or an uncle like you or Uncle Buck in our lives.

John Candy... Rest In Peace, Sir

I hope I didn't get too sentimental on you and I don't want to leave this post on such a somber note when the movie is anything but. There is drama but ultimately Uncle Buck is a comedy classic of the 1980s and if you have yet to view this wonderful John Hughes directed film that is not a teen flick then I recommend it for your next Family Fun Night. For those of you who have seen Uncle Buck but have not watched it in a while... what are you waiting for? Go get your DVD or old VHS copy and prepare to relive the side-splitting laughs again and again!

NEXT TIME: You know how I was talking about horror movie sequels before? Well even my childhood wasn't immune to them! Did you know that one existed to one of the most memorable movies of all time?'s Grease 2 next blog...

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