John Hughes may always be
best remembered for his teen comedies, and for making stars out of
Molly Ringwald and Matthew Broderick, but he should also get credit as
the director who brought the best out in John Candy. Outside
Candy's work on television's SCTV,
I've never enjoyed him more than in John Hughe's PLANES, TRAINS AND
AUTOMOBILES and UNCLE BUCK.
Typical of films made in the '80s
and early '90s by directors
or Ron Howard, UNCLE BUCK is a light-hearted, family-oriented story
with a handful
of good sight gags and memorable lines, and all plot
solved by the fadeout (cue requisite eighties pop tune over ending
But John Candy was
one of the most talented
comedians of that decade, and UNCLE BUCK contains one of his best
performances, making it a minor comedy classic of the period.
he is arguing with drunken clown, putting a tight-assed school
principal in her place, or just vacuuming cereal off his
clothes, Candy is a joy to watch. With
his well-deserved reputation as a funny man, it is easy to forget what a
capable actor Candy was, and how easily he could work with
anybody. Befitting his origins in the
Second City group,
Candy rarely if ever stole a
Working with other funny people like the SCTV gang, Tom
Steve Martin (PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES) or, here, Laurie Metcalf,
Candy gets his laughs while leaving enough open space for his leaves
his fellow performers to get their share also.
UNCLE BUCK features
two very cute and
talented child actors in Macauley Culkin and Gaby Hoffman.
playing the young Miles, was one film away from being a child megastar
with HOME ALONE, and in UNCLE BUCK, he is far less mannered and a tad
more lovable. His rapid-fire question and answer session with
Candy near the beginning of the film is one of the funniest
scenes in the film. Gaby Hoffman, who appeared in FIELD OF
the same year, plays his sister Maizy and is equally
adorable, and together they work screen magic with the overgrown child
they call "U.B. Is there a sweeter scene in '80s cinema than
the gigantic Candy trying to get some sleep while being crowded off the
bed by two
kids and a dog?
Harder to warm up to is Jean Louisa Kelly as Tia, the angst-ridden teenager who has shut herself off from all the adults in her life. Kelly is not a bad actress, but she plays the part too well, never letting the audience find anything in her character to root for. Molly Ringwald was alienated too in Hughes's PRETTY IN PINK, but Hughe's script and Ringwald's natural likability put audiences on her side immediately. It's a minor complaint - Tia's growing relationship with Buck may be the main plotline of the film, but it is Buck's dealings with the kids, Tia's slimy boyfriend, his put-upon girlfriend (Amy Madigan) and a sex-starved neighbor (Metcalf) that really make this film click.
If you've read my review of PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES, you know I adored John Candy. Sadly, he died much too young at age 44, only five years after UNCLE BUCK was released. Many of his films missed the mark, but some of them, like UNCLE BUCK, make you miss John Candy. ½ - JB
QUOTE AND MAKE IT A
"So you think it's the hat?... A lot of people hate this hat. It angers a lot of people, just the sight of it."
BUT WHAT I
REALLY WANT TO DO IS
DIRECT: Back in the eighties, I remember
John Candy would be excellent for a big screen adaptation of the comic
strip Hagar the Horrible,
with fellow SCTV
Martin Short as his sidekick Lucky Eddie.