Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Screenshot: Uncle Buck

The John Candy movie Uncle Buck turns 30 today, and it remains an excellent watch. Writer/director John Hughes wisely put the charismatic Candy front and center as the title character, maker of giant pancakes, and driver of a car called the “Beast.” When the parents of three kids have to leave town unexpectedly, with no other options, they put the husband’s ne’er-do-well brother in charge, and Uncle Buck surprises everyone by being up for the task.

Candy has excellent chemistry with all the kids, especially Macaulay Culkin in his third movie role. Culkin’s character Miles is a suspicious kid from the start, putting his uncle through a Dragnet-like third degree.

So when Uncle Buck has to head out after his runaway niece Tia, he calls his girlfriend Chanise to come take care of the younger kids. Before she gets there, Miles plants himself in front of the front door, fortified by a giant bag of Fritos and a can of lemon-lime Slice. As he peers through the mail slot, at first he spies what looks like three burglars, before Chanise can convince him that she is who she says she is.

Screenshot: Uncle Buck

As The Independent notes, the idea for Home Alone apparently came to Hughes while Culkin was shooting the scene. As Culkin’s character was already displaying a healthy sense of skepticism and resourcefulness, Hughes stretched out that one scene into a two-hour comedy about a boy left alone to defend his house from burglars. The rest is Christmas movie history.

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.

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