This week marked the 25th Anniversary of what many, including myself see as John Candy’s best film: Uncle Buck, released in 1989.
Its star, John Candy has given us many memorable roles throughout his career; but nothing truly beats the one-liners, comedy and heart that this film offers. It is an ultimate 80s classic with Candy at his comedic best.
To know that this film is a quarter of a Century old is unbelievable in its own right. But to realize that we have marked 20 years since Candy’s death is even more incomprehensible than anything else.
Has it really been that long? As an 8 year old girl on the eve of her 9th birthday, I have never forgotten the moment my dad, another John Candy fan, informed me that he had died. It was not the birthday I ever would have wished for, knowing one of my comedic heroes was now forever gone.
Sadness aside, I took comfort in the knowledge that I had this movie (and others), to remind me of the legend this man was. Even now, as I near 30, I still watch Uncle Buck, laughing (and quoting) just like the first time I ever watched it. It never gets old.
Buck Russell, the commitment phobic, cigarette smoker who is “onto cigar’s now” is not your average character; but boy is he a memorable one!
Whether you love him for his bomb of a car; his winter hat, “A lot of people hate this hat. It angers a lot of people just the sight of it”; his cleaning techniques: vacuuming his chest after eating Frosted Flakes and microwaving clothes when the washing machine breaks; or just his many one-liners, “If I could think of an excuse that you would buy…I’d use it”; Buck reminds us of just how amazing John Hughes was as a comedic writer, and how in sync John Candy was with his material.
Other honourable mentions must also go to Buck’s accidental plate smashing “Unbreakable!”, the consecutive questioning by nephew Miles played beautifully by a pre Home Alone Macaulay Culkin; cooking birthday pancakes the size of a kitchen table though, “You should see the toast, I couldn’t even get it through the door!”; his use of school bathroom urinals and his brilliant aim with a golf ball against bad boy Bug, “You son of a bitch, that hurt!”
No matter how old you are, this film is just full of hilarious moments. But, it is also one that offers incredible heart.
We see the sadness Buck feels at his disconnect with his brother’s family, especially his sister in law Cindy who really does not think very highly of the drinking and gambling uncle. One of the strongest scenes in the film is the moment he sees he has been bent out of a wedding photo. Heartbreaking every single time.
Buck also fires back at a mean elementary school Assistant Principal (who has a chin mole), that has nothing nice to say about niece Maizy who she sees as being a ‘bad egg’; forcing Buck to threaten her if she so much as scowls at another child again…as well as offering her a quarter to go downtown and “Have a rat gnaw that thing off your face”. Too damn funny!
But most importantly, it is his protectiveness and love for his niece Tia, who is hell bent on being the rebellious teenager, talking back to her parents and dating a guy who clearly just wants to pop her cherry.
Through this relationship, and by being there for her in her time of need; Buck sees the value of having children and settling down with his girlfriend Chanice. He also manages to save his niece from her downward spiral before she damages her relationship with her parents forever and ruins her life.
To say that Uncle Buck is a good movie is an understatement.
Uncle Buck is a film everyone should have in their DVD collection simply because it has lasted.
How many films can say that after 25 years?
I love this film, I always will.
Not only did it make me see John Hughes as my favourite writer and director; it also made me fall in love with the comedic genius that is John Candy; and for that I will be forever grateful.