Because Uncle Buck was preceded by two of John Candy's most irritating and uninspired star vehicles, The Great Outdoors and Who's Harry Crumb?, audiences who expected more of the same could not be blamed. Lovable in supporting roles but tiresomely slapstick with top billing, Candy had started to go on autopilot through inferior comedies. Uncle Buck did not alter that trajectory, per se, but it provided a charming and heart-warming respite within the larger trend. After Planes, Trains and Automobiles, director John Hughes again shows he can draw out the sympathetic/pitiable side of Candy, rather than just Candy the buffoon. The typical Hughes sentiment again compliments the comedian well. His Buck is still victim of several physical mishaps, but the difference is that the dignified Candy owns them, rather than submitting embarrassed pratfalls in their service. Hughes undercuts the natural tendency to view Buck as a clumsy oaf by gradually revealing him as an earnest, courageous protector of his family unit. It's not that this kind of redemption is surprising in Hollywood, especially for Hughes, but that these ingredients make it work without question. One such ingredient is the first prominent appearance by Macaulay Culkin, who would team with Hughes the writer for Home Alone the following year. Uncle Buck is a superior example of warm domestic comedy oriented around goofball set pieces, one that exceeds limited expectations to become one of the fondest vehicles for its dearly departed star.
by Derek Armstrong review