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John Candy stars in Uncle Buck, the outrageous comedy written and directed by John Hughes. As an idle, good-natured bachelor, Uncle Buck is the last person you would think of to watch the kids. However, during a family crisis, he is suddenly left in charge of his nephew and nieces. Unaccustomed to suburban life, fun-loving Uncle Buck soon charms his younger relatives Miles and Maizy with his hefty cooking and his new way of doing the laundry. His carefree style does not impress everyone though - especially his rebellious teenage niece, Tia, and his impatient girlfriend, Chanice. With a little bit of luck and a lot of love, Uncle Buck manages to surprise everyone in this heartwarming family comedy.
For more about Uncle Buck and the Uncle Buck Blu-ray release, see Uncle Buck Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on February 15, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Director: John Hughes (I)
Writer: John Hughes (I)
Starring: John Candy, Amy Madigan, Jean Louisa Kelly, Gaby Hoffmann, Macaulay Culkin, Elaine Bromka
» See full cast & crew
Uncle Buck Blu-ray Review
"We've done the battle of the wills. The deck's stacked in my favor. You're just gonna lose again."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, February 15, 2011
They just don't make 'em like John Candy and John Hughes anymore. A proud and talented soldier of the '80s Canadian Invasion, Candy descended on an unsuspecting American populous -- overnight it seems -- and won hearts, minds and plenty of laughs. When he died in 1994 at the young age of 43, the gruff-n-huggable comedian left behind an impressive film career, a string of comedy classics and memorable appearances, and an outstretched baton that has yet to be grabbed by someone worthy of Candy's mantle. The same could easily be said of John Hughes. While he stepped away from the camera in the early '90s to focus on (largely mediocre) screenplays, the famed filmmaker remains a pillar of 1980s pop culture. Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Planes, Trains & Automobiles... and those are just some of the films he wrote and directed. When he died in 2009, he didn't leave behind as many box-office hits or beloved classics as Candy, but it hardly matters. The '90s and the Noughts have come and gone without anointing any decade-defining filmmakers, leaving one to wonder if Hughes was the last of his kind. Which brings us to Uncle Buck. Though not without its warts and wrinkles, the film holds up surprisingly well (especially for '80s family fare), doesn't hedge its bets on nostalgia or childhood memories alone, and stands tall as both an entertaining Candy vehicle and a capable Hughes comedy.
When Bob (Garrett M. Brown, Big Love) and Cindy Russell (Elaine Bromka) have to go out of town for a few days to attend a family member's funeral, they're left with little choice but to leave their three children -- temperamental teen Tia (Jean Louisa Kelly, Yes Dear), eight-year-old braniac Miles (Macaulay Culkin, Home Alone) and pint-sized sweetheart Maizy (Gaby Hoffman, Sleepless in Seattle) -- in the care of Bob's unreliable slob-of-a-brother, Buck (John Candy, Cool Runnings). The kids rarely see their uncle. He's a habitual gambler... a cheat... a smoker, drinker, liar and lazy, unemployed loner with very few redeeming qualities. But when thrown to the wolves (or the Russell children as it were), Buck proves his mettle. He not only goes toe-to-toe with Tia, he bolsters Miles's confidence in his abilities, keeps Maizy giggling and throws his brass-tacks, no-nonsense weight around wherever he sees fit. Suffice it to say, by the time good ol' Uncle Buck is finished with the Russell family, it looks nothing like it did when he arrived.
I don't think I want to know a six-year-old who isn't a dreamer or a sillyheart. And I sure don't want to know one who takes their student career seriously. I don't have a college degree. I don't even have a job. But I know a good kid when I see one. Because they're all good kids until dried-out, brain-dead skags like you drag 'em down and convince 'em they're no good. You so much as scowl at my niece, or any other kid in this school, and I hear about it, I'm coming for you!
Uncle Buck's greatest one-two punch rarely fails to hit full force. Fired briskly, slyly and sometimes menacingly from Candy's mouth, Hughes's dialogue roars to cocky, unrepentant life. Buck isn't a pushover by any means, and his fast, funny, deceptively ferocious rants and retorts are the film's greatest asset. With a deviled-egg grin and a protruding cigar, Candy hurls barbs and not-so-veiled threats at anyone who stands in Buck's way, bristles warmly whenever his authority is challenged, and folds like a big, bumbling softy the moment Miles or Maizy need a pal. (Kelly's scowl-slinging Tia hurls herself against the rocks of Buck's resolve time and time again as well, upping the vindictive ante with each pitiful attempt, but only expedites whatever humbling lessons her Uncle has in store.) As any filmmaker or actor will attest, it's incredibly difficult to develop an intimidating but lovable block of misfortune like Buck. The genre wasteland is littered with the mangled corpses of tough-love nannies and crabby caretakers who never quite connected with audiences. But Hughes and Candy make it look like a cakewalk, and Buck is as unforgettable a character as he is effective as a stand-in dad.
Thankfully, Hughes, ever the professor of adolescent angst, doesn't spend much time focusing on Uncle Buck's two precocious tots. Culkin and Hoffman earn solid laughs when called upon -- "I'm a kid. That's my job." -- but mainly sit on the sidelines, giving Hughes ample opportunity to delve into the trials and tribulations of 15-year-old Tia, manchild-on-a-mission Buck, and his on-again, off-again girlfriend Chanice (Amy Madigan, Field of Dreams), the only full-fledged adult to be found. The irony of course is that Buck can wrangle a trio of kids but can't tame his own childish impulses. Whether that reads on screen is debatable. Making stacks of enormous pancakes, threatening principals with bodily harm, abducting a teenage boy and Hughes's other wildly imaginative misadventures are cute to be sure, amusing even, but don't exactly lend themselves to the message he's attempting to weave. Everything works out in the end for Buck and the kids, despite whatever obstacles arise. But it amounts to a mix of dumb luck, tough love and tougher circumstances rather than organic character development. Is Buck really a changed man? I doubt it. Will Tia and her mother stop fighting altogether? Probably not. Regardless, Uncle Buck is a blast from the past worth revisiting.
Uncle Buck Blu-ray, Video Quality
Uncle Buck stumbles with an uneven 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that prevails one minute and flounders the next. Initially, pink-tinted skintones and some obvious edge enhancement are the only major points of contention. Fine detail is surprisingly good, Hughes' wintry palette is bright and lively on the whole, black levels are deep and a crisp veneer of grain lends the picture a nice, filmic quality. Keep your eyes peeled though. A host of issues soon make their presence known. Black levels may be deep, but the moment the sun sets they become heavy, overbearing and impenetrable. Colors follow suit, growing a tad lifeless and murky. Worse, contrast falters early and often, faces frequently flush, crush becomes a prevailing issue and delineation isn't up to snuff. Slight print damage peppers the proceedings as well, as does even more noticeable ringing, intermittent flickering, minor telecine wobble and sudden spikes in the film's grainfield. Thankfully, detail remains impressive (for the most part), artifacting and banding are nowhere to be found, and other digital anomalies rarely creep out of the woodwork. At the moment, I'm teetering between a 2.5 and a 3.0... so take that as you will. Either way, approach Uncle Buck with a fair bit of caution.
Uncle Buck Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As if its video transfer weren't troubling enough, Universal condemns Uncle Buck to bargain bin hell with a disappointing 384kbps DTS stereo mix. That's right. Universal has decided to sidestep lossless audio altogether, recycling a cramped and clumsy DVD-quality track sure to leave fans wondering what just happened. Dialogue is decent I suppose, even if it doesn't boast the crispness and clarity we've all come to know and love. Ira Newborn's score and the film's sound effects aren't so lucky. Inconsistent, unruly, occasionally muffled and continually pitted against each other, neither one is given an opportunity to shine and both suffer accordingly. But what the two-channel mix really lacks is finesse, an issue that becomes painfully clear as the film plows ahead.
Uncle Buck Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Uncle Buck doesn't include any special features.
Uncle Buck Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Uncle Buck isn't just another catalog comedy, it's a beloved John Candy-fan favorite; one that holds up pretty well. To see it make its Blu-ray debut with such an inferior AV presentation is a disappointment to say the least. And yet here it is: a hit-or-miss video transfer and a standard 384kbps DTS stereo mix tossed carelessly on a barebones release. Universal's ten-dollar pricepoint may take away some of the sting, but not enough.
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Uncle Buck Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Universal Announces February Blu-ray Catalog Wave - November 10, 2010
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced that, on February 8, 2011, it will release five catalog titles on Blu-ray, from the action and family genres: Barb Wire, Flipper, The River Wild, Uncle Buck and Waist Deep. The latter had been released in 2006 ...
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