What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the swearing in this movie is pretty intense for a PG film, and there is attempted teen sex (nothing explicitly shown, but no doubt what's going on) and a mistaken belief that adult sex has taken place. Buck pretends to be psychotic, capable of torture-murder and mutilation with power tools, as he intimidates a grubby boy trying to get intimate with his niece. Buck also indulges in drinking, smoking, and gambling.
What's the story?
Buck Russell (John Candy), 40, is a sports-betting, unemployed bachelor living in a messy apartment, stringing along his longtime girlfriend, Chanice (Amy Madigan), who wants to settle down with him. The black sheep of the family, Buck is shocked when his brother calls. It's an emergency -- his sister in-law's father has suffered a heart attack, and they need Buck stay at their posh suburban home to watch the kids while they go out of town. Buck walks into an uncomfortable household situation. Little Mazy (Gaby Hoffman) and Miles (Macaulay Culkin) get along great with the big, goofy teddy-bear uncle. But 15-year-old niece Tia (Jean Kelly) positively loathes Buck. Her resentment and teen rebellion against her mother takes the form of haughty sarcasm, progressive apparel, and hanging with a vaguely "goth" party crowd. Eventually Tia's feud with Buck crosses the line and causes genuine pain. But you get the feeling the girl is just imitating, in caricature, typically snotty grown-ups on her side of the tracks.
Is it any good?
In Uncle Buck, John Hughes has created a likeable hero who exhibits both the virtues and the drawbacks of acting like a big kid. The benefits outweigh the negatives, though -- or at least that's the case Hughes tries to make. As he did in Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club, Hughes makes it seem like class structure in America is just as divisive as the dukedoms and commoners in Jane Austen's backyard.
And, when Buck agrees to watch the kids, it not only helps him avoid a job Chanice lined up for him, it's supposed to prove to her that he can be a responsible parent-like figure. In spite of himself. There's enough slapstick and falling-down stuff with Candy acting goofy to please viewers not looking for heavy stuff, and the acting is all on target.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the conflicts between the various characters. Do you think Buck could have handled bad-girl Tia in a more productive way? Do you believe the way the story comes out? Has Buck himself grown up a little by the end? What do you think will happen between him and Chanice?