Uncle Buck (1989) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Bachelor and all-round slob Buck babysits his brother's rebellious teenage daughter and her cute younger brother and sister.

  • As an idle, good-natured bachelor, Uncle Buck is the last person you would think of to watch the kids. However, during a family crisis, he is suddenly left in charge of his nephew and nieces. Unaccustomed to suburban life, fun-loving Uncle Buck soon charms his younger relatives Miles and Maizy with his hefty cooking and his new way of doing the laundry. His carefree style does not impress everyone though - especially his rebellious teenage niece, Tia, and his impatient girlfriend, Chanice. With a little bit of luck and a lot of love, Uncle Buck manages to surprise everyone in this heartwarming family comedy.

  • Bob and Cindy Russell have a dilemma: Cindy's father, who lives far away, is sick and they need to go see him. However, who will look after their three children for the several days while they are away? Out of desperation they turn to someone whom they have grave reservations about in terms of his suitability for the job, Bob's single, layabout brother, Buck.

  • Uncle Buck has a reputation for being unreliable and a bit of a house wrecker. It is therefore with reluctance, his sister-in-law agrees to leave Buck looking after the kids (two harmless youngsters and a rebelious teenager) when she visits her sick father.

  • Buck Russell is not the most reliable and trustworthy person around, and when Cindy Russell (his sister in law) and Bob Russell (his brother) use him as a last resort to babysit their children Miles, Maizy and Tia (who is a rebellious 16 year old), Buck agrees to fill in while Cindy and Bob go to Indianapolis to visit Cindy's ill father. While over at the house, Buck does his usual routines including going to smoky bowling alleys and smoking cigars. Yet, the longer and longer he is around with Miles and Maizy and the more he witnesses Tia slowly get seduced by her boyfriend Bug, Buck learns responsibility and more to life than just being an eligible bachelor and having fun.

  • Bob Russel, his wife Cindy Russel, and their three kids, 8-year-old Miles, 6-year old Maizy, and 15-year-old Tia, recently moved from Indianapolis to Chicago, and Tia resents Bob and Cindy for it because Tia, Miles, and Maizy were perfectly happy living in Indianapolis. Bob and Cindy are in bed one night when Cindy's aunt calls and tells them that Cindy's father has had a heart attack. Bob and Cindy immediately make plans to go to Indianapolis to visit Cindy's father. After hearing this, Tia angrily tells Cindy that Tia would have a heart attack too if her family moved away from her, then Tia slams her bedroom door in Cindy's face. With Cindy and Bob going to Indianapolis, the problem is who the babysitter will be. Even though Cindy doesn't like the idea, they choose Bob's brother Buck to babysit Tia, Miles, and Maizy. Cindy doesn't like Buck because she thinks Buck is a sloppy person who doesn't know how to do anything. While Cindy and Bob are in Indianapolis, Buck takes over the house, and Buck tries to do the best he can with the kids while he's having problems with Chanice Kobolowski, who has been his girlfriend for the past 8 years. Buck bonds with Miles and Maizy and wins their love, but Buck has problems with Tia as he tries to protect Tia from her boyfriend Bug, because unknown to Tia, Bug only wants Tia for one reason sex.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • In a Chicago suburb on a cold winter day in January, 16-year-old Tia (Jean Louisa Kelly), eight-year-old Miles (Macaulay Culkin) and six-year-old Maizy Russell (Gaby Hoffman) return home after school. With their parents Bob (Garret M. Brown) and Cindy (Elaine Bromka) still at work, Tia is in charge of her younger brother and sister. Tia resents her parents' absence and the family's recent move to Illinois from Indianapolis. The family dinner that night is comprised of take-out Chinese food.

    At the same time at a downtown bar/restaurant, tensions arise between Bob's younger 40-year-old brother, Buck Russell (John Candy), and his girlfriend, Chanice Kobolowski (Amy Madigan), when they discuss Buck's impending first day of work at Chanice's tire store. Buck assures Chanice that he will be at work in the morning; however, that night the Russells receive a phone call informing them that Cindy's father has suffered a heart attack. Bob and Cindy make arrangements to head to Indianapolis while also attempting to find a suitable babysitter for the kids. Only after every friend and neighbor proves unavailable, Cindy reluctantly agrees to allow Uncle Buck to watch the children.

    Bob phones Buck to offer him the job and Buck agrees because it will get him out of working for Chanice, and when he reaches his brother's house in his dirty, dented and smoking car, he assures Cindy that he will take great care of the kids. With a sitter in place, Bob and Cindy head to the airport as Buck settles in.

    The next morning, while Miles and Maizy take a liking to their uncle and his frank, fun-loving demeanor, Tia greets him with cold silence and is embarrassed when Buck drops her off at school, their arrival announced by his car's deafening backfire. Buck spends the day alone at the house and viewing Bob and Cindy's wedding photos, with Buck's image cut out of each one.

    That afternoon when Buck goes to pick Tia up from her high school, he discovers Tia and her beret-clad boyfriend, Bug (Jay Underwood), kissing. Both Buck and Bug take an instant dislike to each other, especially when Buck tells Bug to stay away from Tia and threatens him with a remark about a ritual killing. During the drive home, Buck tells Tia to stay away from Bug for the "guy is a predator and Tia is his prey".

    Later that evening after dinner, when Tia's mother calls to check in, Tial lies, saying that Buck leaves Miles and Maizy at home alone and drinks excessively.

    The next day, Buck spends the day wrestling with the broken washing machine and dealing with an eccentric neighbor, named Marcy (Laurie Metcalf), who is unaware of Cindy and Bob's departure. A two-time divorcee, Marcy takes an instant likening to Buck.

    Rather than allowing Tia to go out with Bug that night, Buck takes the whole family to the bowling alley where he regularly spends time with his single friends. There, he meets with a "fixer" named Roger (Brian Tarantina) where me makes plans to bet on an upcoming horse race, hoping to win enough to allow him to lay off working the rest of the year.

    The next morning is Miles ninth-birthday. Buck makes him huge pancakes for breakfast. That afternoon at Miles' birthday party, a clown named Pooter (Mike Starr) shows up. Buck meets with him outside the house and seeing that he is drunk, orders the clown to leave. When Pooter insults, Buck, he responds by punching Pooter to the ground.

    That evening, Tia attends an outdoor gathering at a local park with Bug. They contemplate a romantic encounter in Bug's car, but Tia decides she is not ready. Buck interrupts them when he drives up and intimidates Bug with boasts of his skills with a hatchet, and grabs one from his trunk. He succeeds in scaring Bug but only strengthens Tia's resolve to stay with Bug and to get revenge against Buck.

    Buck's relationship with his girlfriend is further complicated when Tia tells Chanice that Buck is cheating on her with next-door-neighbor, Marcy. Buck re-evaluates bachelorhood as he grows closer to the children and takes on domestic chores. While Buck washes laundry in the sink and dries it in the microwave, Marcy stops by and tries to get Buck to dance with her in the living room. Just then, Chanice discovers the couple, seemingly confirming Tia's accusations. Unable to stop Chanice from storming out, Buck gets drunk and looks forward to winning at the racetrack the next day.

    However, when it is time to depart for the track, Tia is nowhere to be found. When the children divulge that she has left for a weekend "jumbo party" with Bug, Buck realizes he has no one to babysit while he goes to the track. After agonizing about taking the kids with him, Buck decides he cannot put them in that position. Instead he calls Chanice and asks her to put her feelings aside and watch the children while he looks for Tia.

    That evening, Buck combs the neighborhood until he finds the house where the party takes place and crashes the gathering. Breaking into an upstairs bedroom with a drill, Buck discovers Bug on a bed with a girl other than Tia. Soon after, while driving the streets, Buck finds Tia walking home. When she realizes Buck knows what occurred, the two have a heart-to-heart talk and Buck reveals that he has Bug in the trunk of his car. After forcing Bug to apologize to Tia, Buck lets him go, but sets down a golf ball and hits Bug on the head as he runs into the woods with a magnificently-aimed five-iron drive.

    Back home, Tia confesses to Chanice that she lied about Buck's flirtation with Marcy. Buck and Chanice make up, and the next morning Bob and Cindy return home to a repentant Tia and an uncle who departs as a valued member of the family.

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