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The One-Line Summary: After Bob and Cindy Russell and their three kids, 15-year-old Tia, 10-year-old Miles, and 6-year-old Maizy, move to a Chicago suburb, the parents need to travel on a family emergency and reluctantly call upon Bob’s brother Buck (John Candy), who has a reputation for avoiding work, to watch the kids, which goes over fine with the younger ones but Tia is less than thrilled and the two are at bitter odds throughout in this uneven John Hughes film that is sometimes a touching tale of forgiveness, understanding and acceptance but unfortunately wallowing in a shallow, predictable paint-by-numbers story.
The Two-Line Blurb: John Hughes again puts John Candy back to work in a movie that features some of his best work but in a plot that is mostly forgettable and sometimes uncomfortable, though is levied only by Candy and some adorable performances from Gaby Hoffmann and Macaulay Culkin as the younger children, who really bring some of the best laughs. Concerning the older sibling, Tia, things take a more darker turn and while she is overly everything as an angsty teen, it’s queasy to watch Candy threaten her admittedly awful boyfriend with what amounts to bodily torture throughout and truly diminishes what could have been some interesting character development moments but is wasted in attempts at site gags and physical humor.
The Three-Line Set-up: Tia (Jean Louisa Kelly), from the get-go is unhappy that her parents left almost as soon as they came to Chicago and is instantly distrustful of Uncle Buck, causing much of the conflict in the film. She wants freedom to be her own person but Buck, recognizing that her punk boyfriend is most definitely looking only for sex, thwarts every attempt at a date with increasing levels of aggression, even wielding a hatchet and a power drill. Tia gets revenge by convincing Buck that his girlfriend is cheating on him and neglecting her promise to take care of her brother and sister.
The Four-Line Moment: Uncle Buck comes home and realizes that Tia has gone out on a night that she promised to be there, especially since he needs to get to the horse track to put money down and hopefully win big. When Tia doesn’t show, he rants about promises to the two young children and then decides they must go to the track with him, telling them it’s a place with beautiful horses and colorful jockeys. Once in the car, Buck gets a look at himself in the mirror and has a major internal revelation that moves him emotionally. This is a great moment in Candy’s character and is a scene that works despite the problems in setting it up.
The Five-Word Review: TV show was even worse.