10 Things You Didn’t Know About Uncle Buck
Uncle Buck was a classic 80s movie starring family favourite John Candy in the title role. Cindy and Bob Russell have to leave town in a hurry, and reluctantly decide to put Bob’s wayward brother Buck in charge of their three children Tia, Miles and Mazy. Plenty of hijinks occur when Buck shows up to the house to try and look after his nieces and nephews with the help of some enormous pancakes, bowling alleys and ‘The Beast’, his rundown car.
If you’re a fan of Uncle Buck then keep reading, because we’ve put together 10 fascinating facts about this hilarious 80s movie. Enjoy!
20. One scene from Uncle Buck inspired Home Alone
Remember the scene where Macaulay Culkin’s character is interrogating Chanice through the letter box?
Well this one little moment inspired John Hughes to create Home Alone – which would later shoot Culkin to child stardom!
John Candy also appeared in Home Alone as “the Polka king of the Midwest”, but he didn’t have any scenes with Macaulay.
Uncle Buck was only the third theatrically released film Culkin had starred in, yet his natural talent for acting is clear to see.
Remember Uncle Buck? Me too. So does John Candy's daughter @TheRealJenCandy. We don't talk about Uncle Buck much, but we do talk a lot about Jen and her dad, Jen's podcast and candy. This was a fun episode to record. Thanks for coming out to chat, Jen. https://t.co/04iLhu0YdZ
— Macaulay Culkin (@IncredibleCulk) April 3, 2019
Earlier this year, Culkin payed tribute to his former co-star, Candy, after his daughter Jen made an appearance on his podcast.
19. John Candy wasn’t first choice to star in the lead role
Although John Candy has starred in several John Hughes films, he wasn’t actually first choice to play Buck.
In fact, it was Danny DeVito who was originally considered for the role, but things didn’t work out and instead Candy signed on to play the character.
Other actors in the running included Robin Williams and Jack Nicholson, both of whom were unable to proceed with filming due to scheduling issues.
Perhaps most surprising at all is the fact that Tom Cruise was also considered for the role of Uncle Buck. Once thing is certain, he definitely couldn’t fill John Candy’s shoes!
Other John Hughes films that Candy appeared in include: The Great Outdoors; She’s Having a Baby; Home Alone; National Lampoon’s Vacation; Planes, Trains & Automobiles and Career Opportunities.
18. The movie actually spawned two ill-fated spin offs
Uncle Buck was so popular that executives created not one, but two, ill-fated spin offs.
The first aired from 1990 until 1991, and was created without any guidance from John Hughes, featuring none of the original cast members.
In fact, it was so unpopular that John Hughes had no idea it had even been created until producers asked him if they could use some exterior footage from the movie.
James Lesure also starred in a 2016 update of the movie, but it was cancelled after just one season.
Not only this, but there was actually an Indian remake of the film, entitled Uncle Bun. Catchy!
17. It’s actually possible to make Uncle Buck’s giant pancakes
Who can forget those giant pancakes for Miles’ birthday?! Luckily for all of us, a chef has worked out the quantities you would need to make Uncle Buck’s pancakes.
However, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that the shopping list is pretty hefty.
You’ll need to buy 300g plain flour, 200g caster sugar, 450ml of milk, 9 medium free range eggs, 100g of unsalted butter and 15g of vegetable oil. Yikes!
This will result in a grand total of three very large pancakes, enough to feed ten people!
Sit back and watch your guests’ faces light up in true Macaulay Culkin fashion as they experience the magic of oversized pancakes.
16. Anna Chlumsky from My Girl makes a cameo appearance
Anna Chlumsky is now best known to today’s generation for playing Amy Brookheimer on Veep.
But in the late 80s and early 90s Chlumsky was actually a major child star.
In fact, you can see her make a cameo in Uncle Buck during the classroom scene – she is sat next to Maizy.
However, she didn’t have any lines at all, and just sits there chewing her thumb.
Chlumsky would later go on to star in My Girl (1991) with Macaulay Culkin.
15. The high school is the same location used in plenty of other John Hughes films
If you thought the high school in Uncle Buck looked familiar, then that’s because the exterior has appeared in a number of other John Hughes films.
New Trier West High School in Winnetka, Illinois has also featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Sixteen Candles.
At the time of filming, the school wasn’t actually functioning, so you’ll be glad to hear no one’s education was harmed in the making of this film.
The elementary school scenes were shot in Romona Elementary School in Wilmette, Illinois.
Almost every set was filmed inside the school’s gymnasium, including the two-story Russell house.
14. The film was originally supposed to take place in St. Louis, Missouri
Filming for Uncle Buck was originally supposed to take place in Missouri.
This was unusual for john Hughes, who usually preferred to shoot his movies in Chicago.
However, just as filming was about to begin, the crew encountered a serious problem.
Missouri was experiencing unusually warm weather for the time of year, which was a major issue seeing as the film was set in Winter.
Production was swiftly halted then moved to Chicago to try and get more of a snowy, winter feel.
13. Uncle Buck was shot and released in the same year
1989 was a seriously busy year for John Hughes, as well as his cast and crew.
Uncle Buck was filmed, edited, released in cinemas then distributed on home video all within the space of 365 days!
This was aided by the fact that all of the filming locations were relatively close together.
Many of the indoor scenes were shot in the school, and as previously mentioned, the gymnasium played host to the interior of the Russell’s house.
The school was also equipped with dressing rooms, editing facilities and a special effects shop, meaning that much of the production was completed before filming had even wrapped.
12. You can actually visit the Russells’ house today
You can make a pilgrimage to the Russells’ house by travelling to 2602 Lincoln Street in Evanston, Illinois.
The house was, of course, only used for exterior shots, with the interior scenes being filmed on set.
The home boasts four spacious bedrooms and four bathrooms, and is valued to be worth over $1.5 million.
Buck’s apartment is also located in the same state, although not quite as accessible to the public.
He lives opposite Wrigley Field at 3708 N. Sheffield Avenue, Chicago.
11. Buck drives a 1977 Mercury Marquis Brougham
Fans of the movie will definitely remember Buck’s car, which he nicknamed “The Beast”.
In reality, Buck was actually driving a 1977 Mercury Marquis Brougham.
Filmmakers used a combination of gunshot and firecracker sound effects to create the car’s distinctive backfire noise.
Uncle Buck was a big man, and luckily, this car had plenty of room, weighing a total of 4500 pounds.
The beaten up, tired-looking car is starkly contrasted by the neat, well groomed nature of the Russell’s house.
10. the film helped Macauley Culkin get his next starring role
Chris Columbus, the producer of Home Alone, had seen Culkin’s performance in Uncle Buck, and was bowled away by his natural talent.
So much so in fact, that he just knew he needed Culkin for the leading role in Home Alone.
However, despite John Hughes’ insistence that he was perfect for the role, Columbus wanted to audition some other prospective actors just in case.
Columbus met the young actor in New York, and was instantly charmed by his cute appearance and cheeky personality.
After auditioning five other kids, he concluded that no one would make a better Kevin than Culkin. We agree!
9. John Hughes was disappointed with John Candy
We can only imagine that shooting a movie must be pretty stressful for everyone involved, right?
John Candy certainly agreed, and one night after filming, needing to let off steam, he went to a local bar with music director Tarquin Gotch.
Candy spent the evening chatting to the regulars and socialising with the bar staff well in to the night. However, his evening was perhaps not quite as lowkey as he had intended.
Producer Hughes was listening to the radio the next morning when someone phoned in to regale listeners with tales of his night with John Candy.
To say Hughes was unimpressed is an understatement, although Candy defended his actions, saying Uncle Buck was ‘meant to be disheveled’.
8. John Candy helped Macauley Culkin out of a tough spot
Culkin was just nine years old at the time of filming, and would go on to shoot Home Alone the year after.
Being nine years old on a movie set must be pretty exciting, but perhaps also a little daunting.
Culkin was ever the professional, although he did struggle to remember a few lines. Luckily for him, Candy was there to step in when he needed a helping hand.
During Miles’ (Culkin) interrogation of Uncle Buck, Candy wrote out the script’s dialogue and put it on his head for Culkin to read.
This helped keep up the pace of the dialogue, and earned Candy some serious brownie points with his young co-stars.
7. The film received mixed reviews
After its initial release, the film received mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike, but has since gone on to be a family favourite to many.
The movie was described as having its ‘ups and downs’, but with a ‘undeniable comedic magic’, which came from uniting John Hughes, John Candy and ‘a houseful of precocious kids’.
Variety described Candy as ‘too likeable to give the role any edge’.
They also stated that ‘when called upon to be tough or mean he’s unconvincing, as in the slapstick dealings with the precociously oversexed boyfriend Bug of eldest niece Tia.’
I mean, let’s be honest, being ‘too nice’ certainly isn’t the worst criticism one could receive.
6. It was number one in the box office
Like many John Hughes films, Uncle Buck was widely anticipated, and was placed number one at the box office.
The movie was shown in 1804 theatres across the USA, and on its opening weekend grossed $8.8.
Although this might not sound like a huge amount, when you consider inflation, this ensured a substantial amount of profit.
In the US, its earnings placed it an number 18 in 1989, beaten by the likes of classic movies such as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Batman.
Since its release, the film has earned nearly $80 million worldwide.
5. The whole cast loved john candy
According to Amy Madigan, who played Chanice, Candy was a ‘very smart Chicago kind of guy’, with a very dry and self deprecating sense of humour.
Candy was described as ‘the king of ad libs’, and would apparently hinder filming with his ability to reduce everyone to tears of laughter.
Madigan also described how Candy was ‘just an incredibly generous person. A real family guy. He treated everybody so equitably and was just such a cool person.’
He would also invite the other young child stars along to dinner with him and his family, always lending a willing ear when necessary.
Jean Louisa Kelly, who played Tia, also recalled how Candy brought her a cake whilst filming on her birthday, with the Beatles’ lyrics ‘she was just seventeen’ written in icing.
4. The child stars didn’t get out of school
You’d think being a child star would mean you didn’t have to go to school. However, it seems this is not the case.
Of course, most of the movie was set in a school, so the cast and crew made it their temporary home.
They set up lessons in the classrooms, and the children would work alongside tutors to ensure they were keeping up with their work.
Kelly described walking down the empty, eerily quiet halls of the abandoned school. Surely every kids dream!
She described how the cast would often hang out together, and there was a lot of laughing and banter on and off the set.
3. It was the first time rap music had been used instead of rock
In most films prior to Uncle Buck, the stereotypical angsty teenager was soundtracked by angry rock tunes.
However, this is not the case in Uncle Buck. The film features rap music, including tracks from Young MC.
In fact, in the scene where Uncle Buck goes to find Tia at the party, he hears rap music playing.
The song he hears is Bust a Move by Young MC, and Uncle Buck jokingly said ‘who’s that? The Grass Roots?’.
The Grass Roots were a popular band in the sixties, releasing classic numbers such as Temptation Eyes and Midnight Confessions.
2. John Candy and Macauley Culkin worked together three times
Uncle Buck was the first film the pair had worked on together, and their onscreen chemistry is clear to see.
Next came Home Alone, in which Candy played Gus Polinski and Culkin of course took the leading role of Kevin.
Candy’s is only a minor role, and he is first seen at the airport offering Kate a lift whilst she’s trying to book a flight to Chicago.
In 1991, the pair were reunited for Only the Lonely, another Chris Columbus film.
This time, it’s Candy who takes the lead role, whereas Culkin has only a small cameo.
1. there was a parody of the film
Some might argue that Uncle Buck is funny enough in itself, but that didn’t stop the BBC.
This was on the second season of the The Fast Show, in an episode entitled Uncle Duck II.
If you have’t heard of The Fast Show, it was a British comedy sketch show that was popular in the UK in the nineties.
There are many other references to Uncle Buck across popular culture, including a mention in the Flintstones.
This is especially poignant as John Candy was in the running to star in the film, until his death prevented this from happening. As a child, he had loved the cartoon version.