(director/writer: John Hughes; cinematographer: Ralf Bode; editors: Tony Lombardo/Lou Lombardo/Peck Prior; music: Ira Newborn; cast: John Candy (Uncle Buck Russell), Jean Kelly (Tia), Gaby Hoffman (Maizy), Macaulay Culkin (Miles), Amy Madigan (Chanice), Garrett M. Brown (Bob Russell), Brian Tarantina (E. Roger Coswell), Suzanne Shepherd (Mrs. Hogarth), Laurie Metcalf(Marcie Dahlgren-Frost), Jay Underwood (Bug), Elaine Bromka (Cindy Russell), Mike Starr (Pooter-the-Clown); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: PG; producer:Tom Jacobson/John Hughes; MCA Universal Home Video; 1989)

“The supposedly sweet domestic comedy hits too many sour notes to remain in tune, even if always competent.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The supposedly sweet domestic comedy hits too many sour notes to remain in tune, even if always competent. It’s written and directed by John Hughes (“Weird Science”/”Planes, Trains and Automobiles”), who makes it sometimes uncomfortable to watch by being so awkward while still giving it no edge. It plays out as a John Candy star vehicle, who is the lovable good-natured slob bachelor. If there wasn’t such a need for sentimental moralizing, the film maybe would have worked better and been more sympathetically received. Of note, this is the film that launched the acting career of Macaulay Culkin.

Uncle Buck (John Candy) is the kooky idler living in downtown Chicago, who is called by his brother Bob (Garrett M. Brown) in an emergency to house-sit for his two nieces and a nephew because his wife Cindy’s (Elaine Bromka) father had a heart attack and they must stay with him in Indianapolis. That night Buck goes in his noisy clunker car to Bob’s wealthy suburban Chicago home. There he must learn to handle the high-tech gadgets in the kitchen and laundry room. He must also deal with the angry and confused 15-year-old Tia (Jean Kelly) and her relationship with her untrustworthy steady boyfriend Bug (Jay Underwood). The cuties are the 8-year-old Miles (Macaulay Culkin) and the 6-year-old Maizy (Gaby Hoffman), who ally with Buck in their need for parenting, warmth and attention.

Buck also must deal with his tire shop owner girlfriend Chanice (Amy Madigan), who wants Buck to get his act together or she’ll dump him. He must also curtail the advances of Bob’s divorcee neighbor (Laurie Metcalf), rudely tell a hostile assistant principal (Suzanne Shepherd) to go downtown and have a rat gnaw off the mole on her chin, and take care of a clown (Mike Starr) who shows up drunk to perform at home for the youngster’s birthday party.

The comedy antics are only mildly amusing. It’s an innocuous film more suited for television sit-com than a feature film.

Uncle Buck (1989)

REVIEWED ON 4/22/2017       GRADE: C+