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Film: Uncle Buck
Who knew John Candy could be so terrifying?
"How would you like to spend the next several nights wondering if your crazy, out-of-work, bum uncle will shave your head while you sleep?"

What do you get when you have a family emergency, and the only person available to watch the kids is John Candy? You get Uncle Buck.

The titular character in this John Hughes picture is Buck Russell, a fun-loving, unemployed slob with Commitment Issues. When his sister-in-law's father has a heart attack, he is called on to watch his brother's children, including teenage Deadpan Snarker Tia. Hilarity Ensues.

Much of said hilarity comes from Buck's repeated encounters with Tia's boyfriend, Bug. Buck knows Bug is just using her, and pretends to be Ax-Crazy for Bug's benefit. Tia decides that This Means War! When not trying to save Tia from herself, Buck cooks giant pancakes, punches out drunken clowns and tries to fix his on-again-off-again relationship with his old flame/employer, Chanice. All this builds to a Crowning Moment Of Heartwarming in which Buck must choose between freedom and responsibility. Macaulay Culkin's performance as Tia's little brother will remind many viewers of Home Alone, and for good reason: it inspired the movie.


This film provides examples of:

  • The Alleged Car / Cool Car: Buck's jalopy (he calls it "The Beast"), which backfires like clockwork. It becomes cool when we see what's in the trunk.
  • Amusing Injuries: Golf balls to the head, courtesy of Buck's Improbable Aiming Skills
  • Ax-Crazy: Buck plays this to the hilt for Bug's benefit.
    Bug: Ever heard of a tune-up? Beh-hee-hee-hee-hee!
    Buck: Beh-hee-hee-hee-hee! Ever heard of a ritual killing? Beh-hee-hee-hee-hee!
    Bug: [smirk fades] ...I don't get it.
    Buck: Gnaw on her face like that in public again, and you'll be one. (beat) Beh-hee-hee-hee-hee!
  • An Axe to Grind: Buck threatens Bug by talking about a hatchet he keeps. Tia thinks he's just bluffing. Buck then takes the hatchet out for them to see.
  • Badass: Buck. Only he could threaten people with power tools and peg them with golf balls, and get away with it.
    • Judging by the way Pal reacted when Buck walked over to him when he was coming onto Tia, Buck was responsible for his black eye and split lip.
  • Badass Longcoat: Buck's tweed overcoat, perfect for crashing house parties and other Crazy Awesome deeds.
  • Bait and Switch: Buck drops an expensive plate. Obviously it'll shatter into a million pieces, right? Wrong. It stays in one piece, until Buck whacks it against the piano.
  • Beauty Mark: Inverted; the assistant principal's mole is anything but beautiful.
  • Bedmate Reveal: When Buck bursts in on Bug at the house party, he sees the girl Bug is trying to Date Rape is not Tia. He goes ahead with it anyway.
  • Beware the Nice Ones / Beware the Silly Ones: Buck appears at first to be a fat, friendly goof; but mess with his nieces/nephew and you better start quivering...
  • Bumbling Dad: The children's father isn't really in the film enough to qualify either way, but Buck fulfills this trope to a T (for "Trope").
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Tia Russell.
  • Character Title
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Buck wears one when menacing Bug. So creepy, it borders on a Slasher Smile.
  • Cool Hat: Someone tries to steal it at the house party.
  • Cool Uncle: The basic premise.
  • Commitment Issues: Buck has this in regards to his girlfriend.
  • Constantly Curious: Miles; see Elephant's Child, below.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Don't eat Buck's breakfast. Although it's never actually stated that it's bad... Tia turns it down because she's being a bitch, and Miles seems shocked to see something different (an appropriately kidlike reaction). The sole mentioned aspect of it is that he put onions in the scrambled eggs.
  • Curse Cut Short / Getting Crap Past the Radar: Buck leaves a lengthy message on Chanice's answering machine describing their private nicknames for her breasts, and her buttocks, and then...
    "Felix was what we called your—" *Smash Cut to a yowling cat*
  • Date Rape Averted: Skirting a fine line between rape and seduction, but she clearly tells him to stop and he flat-out ignores her.
    • Not so averted in Tia's case. The film never comes right out and says it, but it's heavily implied that Bug did the same thing to her and then tossed her aside like so much garbage.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tia has made this her hobby. Buck comes a close second.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Tia at the end.
  • Elephant's Child: At one point Buck asks Miles what his record for questions asked is.
  • Emotionless Girl: Again, Tia.
  • Exploding Closet: Variant: Just opening the door doesn't do it, but when Buck reaches for something inside the closet the typical avalanche ensues.
  • Freudian Threat: While not explicitly mentioned, Tia menacing a helpless Bug with a power drill can be this for viewers who picked up on the implied Date Rape plot point.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Buck's the foolish to Bob's responsible.
  • Gentle Giant: Sure, he's pretty scary if you're a heartless educator or a besotted party clown or a punk, but just watch the scene where Buck tries to convince Maizy she can't sleep in his bed. D'awwwwww.
  • Groin Attack: Buck threatens Bug with this in a very roundabout way, while showing off his hatchet.
    "Why, I've been known to circumcise a gnat. You're not a gnat, are you, Bug? Bug. Gnat. Is there a similarity there? I think there is!"
  • Hard Head: Bowling balls just bounce right off.
  • Ignore The Disability: Buck introducing himself as "Buck Melanoma, Moley Russell's wart." See Beauty Mark, above.
  • Insult Backfire
    Tia: His name is Bug.
    Buck: What's his last name, Spray?
    Tia: You should talk, Buck.
  • Leitmotif: Try not to bob your head along to Buck's, especially the nice long section of it you get as he walks into the elementary school. I dare you.
  • Malicious Slander: Tia resorts to this, preying on her absent mother's dislike of Buck, as payback for Buck interfering with her social life.
  • Meaningful Name: Bug. He scurries away when the light comes on, and if you saw him on your floor you'd probably step on him.
  • Monster Clown: A mild example; more of a thoroughly soused, foul-mouthed clown. Not that it keeps Buck from kicking his ass.
  • Nice Hat: Buck has a few.
  • Noodle Incident: "I want to apologize about your bushes. I had no idea that they would all catch on fire like that."
  • Not So Different: Buck admits he was just like Bug in his youth, and the two have extremely similar names.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Buck is just trying to fix the washing machine, but it doesn't look (or sound) like that to the nosey neighbor. She mistakes him for a rapist.
  • Overly Long Gag: When Miles "questions" Buck when they first meet. This is a portion of the conversation, that takes about five minutes:
    Miles: Are you married?
    Buck: No.
    Miles: Why not?
    Buck: It's a long story.
    Miles: Do you have any kids?
    Buck: No.
    Miles: Why not?
    Buck: It's an even longer story.
  • Papa Wolf: Buck is this to all of the kids, but especially Tia.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Buck trying to fix the washing machine by kicking it, all the while swearing a blue streak.
  • Precision F-Strike: When Buck knocks the pots and pans down at the end. SHIT!
  • Recycled: The Series : A short-lived TV version aired on CBS in 1990, in which Buck (played by Kevin Meaney) gets full custody of the kids after their parents die in a car accident (though you wouldn't know it with how happy they all look).
  • Slasher Smile: Just look at the picture, for God's sake.
  • Talk to the Fist: Happens when Buck punches a clown in the face (twice in succession). The clown had it coming, though, for showing up drunk and belligerent when he was supposed to be entertaining at Miles' birthday party.
  • Twerp Sweating: Buck is very good at scaring the hell out of Bug.
  • What Could Have Been: A remake was said to be in the works starring Dan Fogler as Buck, though news of that vanished.
    • Rumor also had it for a while that the 1991 comedy Dutch (also written by John Hughes) was originally penned as a possible sequel draft. It's never been officially confirmed, though the protagonists of both films are very similar.
  • What Does She See in Him?: What does Tia see in Bug, anyway? Somewhat justified in that All Girls Want Bad Boys and she's rebelling against her parents.
  • The Windy City: It's a John Hughes film, right?
    • Chicago actually wasn't the first choice. John Hughes intended to shoot the film in St. Louis but was forced to move the shoot to Chicago due to an unseasonably warm winter.


UHFFilms of the 1980sUnmasked Part 25
U-571Creator/UniversalWaterworld

alternative title(s): Uncle Buck
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