Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Hughes|
|Produced by||John Hughes
|Written by||John Hughes|
|Music by||Ira Newborn|
|Cinematography||Ralf D. Bode|
|Edited by||Lou Lombardo
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|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 (Jean Louisa Kelly), 8-year-old Miles (Macaulay Culkin), and 6-year-old Maizy (Gaby Hoffmann), have recently moved from Indianapolis, Indiana to the Chicago, Illinois suburbs because of Bob's promotion. Tia resents her parents for the move. 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 accuses Cindy of abandoning her father.
Bob suggests asking his brother, Buck (John Candy), to come watch the children, to which Cindy objects. While they are middle class suburbanites, Buck is an unemployed slacker, who lives in a small apartment in the city, enjoys drinking and smoking, and earns his living by betting on rigged horse races. He drives an old and crackling 1977 Mercury Marquis (every time he turns off the engine, it makes a loud backfire). His girlfriend, Chanice (Madigan), owns a car repair business. They have been together for eight years and she wants him to get a job so they can get married and have a family. Buck accepts a job at Chanice's garage, but is unenthusiastic as he enjoys his freedom. Since no one else is available to help Bob and Cindy, they have no choice but to turn to Buck, who agrees to help. He informs Chanice that he will need to start work later as he tells of the family emergency. Given that Buck has earned a reputation as having a poor work ethic, Chanice thinks Buck is trying, as usual, to lie his way out of working.
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 (Underwood), he warns her that he 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.
When Buck threatens Bug with a hatchet in an attempt to "bury the hatchet" with him, Tia exacts revenge by making Chanice think he is cheating on her with their neighbor, Marcy (Metcalf). One weekend, concerned after Tia sneaks out to a party, he 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 ties Bug up, gags him with duct tape and throws him into the trunk of his car. 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 made a recovery. Upon entering the house, Tia surprises her mother with a hug. Cindy then promises her daughter that things are going to be different from now on. Buck and Chanice then leave for Chicago, with Buck and Tia exchanging a loving wave goodbye.
- John Candy as Buck Russell
- Jean Louisa Kelly as Tia Russell
- Macaulay Culkin as Miles Russell
- Gaby Hoffmann as Maizy Russell
- Amy Madigan as Chanice Kobolowski
- Jay Underwood as Bug
- Laurie Metcalf as Marcie Dahlgren-Frost
- Suzanne Shepherd as Asst. Principal Anita Hoargarth
- Mike Starr as Pooter the Clown
- Garrett M. Brown as Bob Russell
- Elaine Bromka as Cindy Russell
- Dennis Cockrum as Pal
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 boy's 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.
The film received mixed to positive 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. 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".
The film earned $8.8 million on its opening weekend to 1,804 theatres and was placed No. 1 at the box office. Its US earnings were 18th in 1989, and the film has earned nearly $80 million worldwide since its release.
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 Leisure as his brother and Nia Long as Buck's sister-in-law. This version features an African-American cast.
Home media release
The film was released on VHS 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.
- Chambers, Bill (April 21, 2012). "Uncle Buck (1989) - Blu-ray Disc". Film Freak Central. A recent, extended review of the film and its 2012 Blu-ray release.
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