The Mike Epps-led adaptation of the beloved John Hughes film turns its eponymous character into a far more creepy, far less likable caretaker for the Russell children, who put their trust in the degenerate grifter all too soon for the sake of… let’s call it comedy.
The pilot is very much a recreation of the film, which finds Buck coming to niece Tia’s (newcomer Iman Benson) rescue when a boy she’s been sexting with attempts to take their relationship to the next level. And if sexting doesn’t scream “contemporary remake!,” Buck takes his younger nephew Miles (Switched at Birth‘s Sayeed Shahidi) and niece Maizy (The Fosters‘ Aalyrah Caldwell) to a bar where the latter befriends a prostitute and learns how to twerk.
Will (Las Vegas‘ James Lesure) and Alexis (House of Lies‘ Nia Long) are the parents dumb enough to leave their three kids behind with Buck, who we first meet as his relationship with fiancée Jackie (guest star Regina Hall) begins to crumble. He agrees to take care of the kids for the weekend to avoid dinner with her father, but she eventually catches up with him at the bar (following the aforementioned twerking lesson) and rightfully dumps his behind.
Despite his many, many faults, Alexis agrees to let Buck stay with them and be their live-in “manny” after he appears to have been a good influence on Tia — a niece he had no trouble calling a “b-i-t-c-h” in front of Miles and Maizy just minutes earlier. Little does Alexis know that her brother-in-law caught her daughter mid-sext, and was about to blackmail the underaged boy she was sexting with by breaking into his house and taking a picture of him as he steps out of the shower. (How is this okay!?)
Episode 2 is slightly better, if only because it doesn’t contain any jokes in which the remnants of a powdered donut are mistaken for Miles using cocaine. (There is a sight gag involving a pot dispensary, though, so not to worry if you rely on family comedies for drug humor.) “L’il’ Scarface” finds Buck and Will attempting to cheat their way into winning a girl scout cookie sales competition for Maizy, while overprotective mom Alexis attempts to play by the rules, and in turn inadvertently assaults a paraplegic woman at the grocery store. Meanwhile, Tia and Miles’ B-story takes a page out of the family sitcom handbook and finds them attempting to patch a hole in the wall without their parents finding out. They almost get away with it by plastering a big photo of Barack Obama over it, but Buck accidentally falls through the wall from Maizy’s room and destroys the cover-up.
Uncle Buck certainly has a talented enough cast, and a charming lead in Survivors Remorse alum Epps, but there’s only so much the actors can do to overcome the subpar writing. Also, if you’re gonna do a remake, at least attempt to recreate the best part of the last remake:
OK, it’s your turn: What did you think of Uncle Buck? Grade the back-to-back episode premiere via our poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!