A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Uncle Buck learns the importance of family and committed relationships. Tia, his teenage niece, learns to put more trust in the adults in her life and to try to do a better job of understanding her mother in particular.
Positive Role Models
Despite his deliberate unemployment, avoidance of committing to a relationship with his serious girlfriend, his slovenly appearance, and general irresponsibility, Uncle Buck clearly cares about his nieces and nephews and doesn't cave in to his teen niece's antisocial behavior. He grows to understand that, for all its freedom, his life of bachelorhood has some drawbacks.
Violence & Scariness
Buck punches a drunk man dressed as a clown. He threatens and implies violence toward his niece's boyfriend and later kidnaps him, puts him in his trunk, and tapes his wrists and ankles with duct tape. In a bedroom at a teen party, a boy makes sexual advances toward a girl with no real consent.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
When Buck swears and wrestles with an uncooperative washing machine, an eavesdropper thinks he's having rough sex. Talk of teen pregnancy in the case of Tia and her boyfriend, who clearly wants to go all the way with her. Buck has pet names for his girlfriend's private parts, culminating in "Felix," and as he goes over the pet names on her answering machine, the scene is abruptly cut by the sound of a meowing cat before he gets to say what "Felix" represents.
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A teen girl and her younger brother and sister say "s--t," "crap," and "goddammit." Later, the young boy asks his teen sister if she's "waiting for your sex?" Adults use occasional profanity: "son of a bitch," "a--hole," "pissant." While leaving a lengthy phone message on his girlfriend's answering machine, Buck talks about the pet names for her breasts and buttocks before talking about "Felix," and he's about to say what it is before the scene cuts to the sound of a meowing cat. A neighbor who sneaks into the house where Uncle Buck is babysitting, not realizing he's there, overhears him trying to unjam a packed washing machine, confusing his comments and violent thrusting for something sexual. An intoxicated man dressed as a clown talks about all the "dildo jokes" he made the night before at a bachelorette party.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink and smoke cigarettes. Drinking shown in a packed teen house party. Cigar smoking. Beer drinking at bars and bowling alleys. A clown hired to be the entertainment for a young boy's birthday party arrives drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Uncle Buck is a 1989 John Hughes-directed movie in which John Candy plays a perpetually irresponsible adult brought in to babysit his nieces and nephew due to a family emergency. Within the first five minutes, a teen girl, while exchanging unpleasantries with her brother and sister, says "crap" and "s--t," followed by the brother saying "goddammit" and the little girl saying "s--t." Later, the boy asks his teen sister if she's "waiting for your sex?" While the profanity from kids more or less slows down after the beginning, adults also use profanity and make reference to "dildo jokes," and a neighbor mistakenly thinks Buck is having sex in the laundry room because of the sounds he makes as he tries to unjam a packed washing machine. Teens drink and smoke; the boyfriend of the teen girl clearly wants to have sex with her and is later seen engaged in nonconsensual foreplay with another girl at a party. For his part, Uncle Buck smokes cigars, drinks beer to excess, talks of pet names for his girlfriend's private parts (culminating in his name for his private part, "Felix"), and seems to make his living engaged in various scams involving gambling. Nonetheless, the movie does attempt to paint an accurate picture of 1980s teen life, and the characters begin to see the errors in their ways and lifestyles. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
In Uncle Buck, John Hughes has created a likable 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, but it's also 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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.