In 1989 John Candy and Macaulay Culkin teamed up, a little, for the John Hughes comedy Uncle Buck. Now ABC have opted to let Mike Epps become a small screen “manny” as the new version of Candy’s oddball uncle for the new millennium. The pilot, which will premiere in 2016, basically crams most of the Hughes film’s plot into the 22 minute run time.
Fans of Epps will enjoy his take on this tale of the bachelor older brother who steps in to help look after his troublesome kids. Uncle Buck has an impressive cast list. Nia Long, plays the mother Cindy Russell and Long has a “long” career playing a multitude of different roles. The actress played love interest to Will Smith’s “Fresh Prince” way back in 1995 after getting her start on daytime soap The Guiding Light, a few short years previously.
James Lesure plays husband to Cindy and father to Tia (Iman Benson), Maizy (Aalyrah Caldwell) and Miles (Sayeed Shahidi), Will Russell is the voice of “reason” in this family where the professional parents are struggling to cope with looking after their kids. Lesure is another long term actor with a varied career.
After wife Cindy claims that Tia is turning into a “black Amanda Bynes” Will responds that his wife is exaggerating:
“Come on, she’s barely black Selena Gomez…”
The dialogue in the pilot is clever, topical and funny. While the pilot, and the show, is obviously a vehicle for Epps, each player in the series looks to bring something to the ensemble table. There are some good gags in the pilot: Spanks, “No more CNN for you,” and other jokes that are chuckle worthy.
The move to change the characters from the late Hughes’ cult favorite comedy to a different ethnicity appears to be motivated mainly to allow Mike Epps to step into the late Candy’s shoes. There are jokes that hinge around the characters ethnicity. At one point, Will states that they need to find more “black friends” after learning that their non-black ones are out on a “juice cleanse.”
Since the new Uncle Buck series is part of “ABC Black” this seems to be an alternative offering to Anthony Anderson’s “black-ish” another ethnically focussed ABC comedy. While this may be the case, the show has more in common with Dr Ken, a show about a Korean doctor whose family is made up of Korean and Japanese ethnicity.
Like the Ken Jeong comedy offering, Uncle Buck and Mike Epps are presenting a show where the ethnic “color” is less important than the fact that the couple Will and Cindy, are two highly successful professionals who need help looking after their children. Uncle Buck would be funny regardless of the ethnicity involved.
Mike Epps may not have been the best fit for an Uncle Buck replacement, but the performer has a delivery and style that accentuates the character he is portraying. Comedically Epps is good and the pilot allows the comic to do what he does best.
The child actors all do pretty well, newcomer Iman is especially impressive, and if the quality of the jokes are maintained this ABC comedic offering should continue to amuse. Now that the source film’s plot has been used up for the pilot, it will be investing to see where the series heads next.
Uncle Buck airs in 2016 on ABC, tune in and see if Mike Epps is a good replacement for John Candy’s version of the bachelor uncle who wins over his brother’s kids.