Uncle Buck

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This article is about the original film. For its 1990 spin-off TV series, see Uncle Buck (1990 TV series). For the 2016 series, see Uncle Buck (2016 TV series).
Uncle Buck
Uncle buck.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Hughes
Produced by John Hughes
Tom Jacobson
Tristin Rogerson-Dolley
Written by John Hughes
Music by Ira Newborn
Cinematography Ralf D. Bode
Edited by Lou Lombardo
Tony Lombardo
Peck Prior
Hughes Entertainment
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • August 16, 1989 (1989-08-16)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million
Box office $79.2 million

Uncle Buck is a 1989 American comedy film directed by John Hughes and starring John Candy and Amy Madigan, with Jean Louisa Kelly, Gaby Hoffmann, Macaulay Culkin, Jay Underwood, and Laurie Metcalf in supporting roles.


Bob and Cindy Russell and their three kids, 15-year-old Tia, 8-year-old Miles, and 6-year-old Maizy, have recently moved from Indianapolis to the Chicago suburbs because of Bob's promotion. Late one night, they receive a phone call from Indianapolis informing them that Cindy's father has suffered a heart attack. They make plans to leave immediately to be with him. After hearing the news, Tia, bitter about having been forced to move, accuses Cindy of abandoning her father.

Bob suggests asking his brother, Buck, to come watch the children, to which Cindy objects. While they are middle class suburbanites, Buck is unemployed, lives in a small apartment in Chicago, drinks and smokes, and earns his living by betting on rigged horse races. He drives a dilapidated 1977 Mercury Marquis that pours smoke and backfires. His girlfriend, Chanice, owns an automobile tire shop. The couple have been together for eight years; Chanice wants to get married and start a family and Buck has grudgingly accepted a new job at her shop. Since no one else is available to help Bob and Cindy, they have no choice but to turn to Buck. Buck cheerfully informs Chanice that he can't start his job yet due to the family emergency. Chanice thinks Buck is trying, as usual, to lie his way out of working.

Upon arriving, Buck quickly befriends Miles and Maizy, but the rebellious Tia is aloof, and the two engage in a battle of wills. When Buck meets Tia's obnoxious boyfriend, Bug, Buck warns her that Bug is only interested in her for sex. Buck repeatedly thwarts her plans to sneak away on dates with Bug. Over the next several days, he deals with a number of situations in comedic fashion, including taking the kids to his favorite bowling alley, making enormous pancakes for Miles' birthday, ejecting a drunken birthday clown from the property, speaking with the school assistant principal about Maizy, and handling the laundry when the washing machine doesn't work.

Eventually, Tia exacts revenge on Buck for meddling in her relationship with Bug by misleading Chanice to think he is cheating on her with their neighbor, Marcy; the two have an argument and Chanice leaves him. The following weekend, concerned after Tia sneaks out to a party, Buck decides to go looking for her rather than attend a horse race which would have provided him with enough money for the entire following year. He calls and begs Chanice to watch Miles and Maizy as he searches for Tia. At the party, thinking that Bug is taking advantage of her in a bedroom, he forces the door open by drilling out the lock, but walks in on Bug with another girl. He kidnaps Bug. After he finds Tia wandering the streets, she apologizes to him and acknowledges he was right about Bug. Buck lets Bug out of the trunk to apologize to her. When Bug is finally released, he threatens to sue him. Buck then strikes him with a golf ball, making him retract his apology and flee. At home, Tia helps Buck reconcile with Chanice by admitting her lie and tells her that he would be a good husband and father. Buck also agrees to start his job at the garage.

Bob and Cindy return from Indianapolis, Cindy's father having recovered. Upon entering the house, Tia surprises her mother with a hug. Buck and Chanice then leave for Chicago, with Buck and Tia exchanging a loving wave goodbye.



The film was the first one directed, written, and produced by John Hughes under a multi-picture agreement deal with Universal. Filming began on January 4, 1989 in Chicago. The company decided to keep the production facilities and locations as close as possible. The vacant New Trier High School in Northfield, Illinois was chosen for the production facility. Three of its gyms were converted into sound stages on which several sets were constructed including the two-leveled interior of the Russell House, Buck's bedroom, a corridor in the elementary school, the boys' restroom, the principal's office, a classroom, and several smaller sets. The school was also equipped to suit the needs of the cast and crew behind-the-scenes, classrooms for the young actors, offices, dressing rooms, wardrobe department, editing facilities, a special effects shop, equipment storage areas, and a projection booth. Production designer John Corso began designing the sets in October 1988 and within seven weeks his construction crew of twelve carpenters and five painters began work on the two levels of the Russell house. A colonial-style house in Evanston was chosen for the exterior of the Russell house. The exteriors and practical locations were shot in Chicago, Cicero, Skokie, Northbrook, Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe, and Riverwoods.


Upon release, the film received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has given it a "Fresh" score of 64%, based on 21 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10.[1] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating, the film has a score of 51 out of 100 based on 12 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[2]

The film earned $8.8 million on its opening weekend to 1,804 theatres and was placed No. 1 at the box office.[3] Its US earnings were 18th in 1989, and the film has earned nearly $80 million worldwide since its release.[4]

The film later attained a large following and has become a cult film.[5]

Television series[edit]

A television series was broadcast on CBS in 1990. It starred Kevin Meaney as Buck, a slob who drinks and smokes. When Bob and Cindy die in a car accident, he is named as the guardian of Tia, Miles, and Maizy. The show was not received well by TV critics. After it was moved to Friday, in an attempt by CBS to establish a comedy night there, its ratings quickly plummeted and it was canceled.

In June 2016 ABC premiered a second television adaptation with Mike Epps in the title role, James Lesure as his brother and Nia Long as Buck's sister-in-law. This version features an African-American cast.


Main article: Uncle Bun

In 1991, the film was remade in Malayalam language and released as Uncle Bun.

Home media release[edit]

The film was released on VHS and Laserdisc in 1989, and on DVD in 1998 and 2003. On August 26, 2008, it appeared on the DVD box-set "John Candy Comedy Favorites Collection," along with The Great Outdoors (1988) and Going Berserk (1983). On February 8, 2011, it was released on Blu-ray Disc for the first time, and released again on June 28, 2011 on Blu-ray with a DVD and a digital copy.


  1. ^ "Uncle Buck (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Uncle Buck". Metacritic. Retrieved December 31, 2015. 
  3. ^ "'Uncle Buck' Is No. 1 At the Movie Box Office". The New York Times. August 23, 1989. Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Uncle Buck (1989)". Box Office Mojo. 
  5. ^ Miller, Julie (June 14, 2016). "Uncle Buck Stars Remember John Candy: "He Was Just That Guy You Wanted Him to Be"". Vanity Fair. Condé Nast. Retrieved December 6, 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

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