John Hughes unsuccessfully tries to mix a serious generation gap message between the belly laughs in Uncle Buck, a warm-weather John Candy vehicle.
On paper the rotund Second City veteran seems ideal for the title role: a ne’er-do-well, coarse black sheep of the family suddenly pressed into service when his relatives (Elaine Bromka, Garrett M. Brown), a suburban Chicago family, have to rush off to visit Bromka’s dad, stricken with a heart attack.
Enter Uncle Buck, put in charge of the three youngsters for an indefinite period. The kids wear down Buck’s rough edges and he teaches them some seat-of-the-pants lessons about life.
Unfortunately, Candy is too likable to give the role any edge. When called upon to be tough or mean he’s unconvincing, as in the slapstick dealings with the precociously oversexed boyfriend Bug (Jay Underwood) of eldest daughter Jean Louisa Kelly.
Kelly’s performance is technically okay but the character is so unsympathetic and Hughes’ dialog so cruel that the picture stops dead for each of her big scenes. There’s a thankless role for Amy Madigan, miscast as Candy’s long suffering g.f. Young kids Gaby Hoffman and Macaulay Culkin are supportive, particularly Culkin in Dragnet-voices routine with the star.