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Is Uncle Buck A Christmas Movie? | Screen Rant

Uncle Buck has been widely hailed as a comedy classic, but is it a Christmas movie? Directed by John Hughes, the movie features John Candy in one of his fan-favorite roles as the eponymous Uncle Buck. The cast also includes an early screen appearance by Macaulay Culkin, premiering a year before his breakout role in Home Alone.

Despite the term appearing self-explanatory, identifying a true “Christmas movie” has proven surprisingly contentious among film-buffs. While some might argue the label belongs to any movie that happens to take place on Christmas, most feel the genre has other requirements. When choosing a movie that might earn the label, Uncle Buck is a particularly controversial pick. The movie has become traditional Christmas fare for some and even has a history of being broadcast during the holiday season. With all that in mind, does Uncle Buck fit the bill?

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While it has the right themes, Uncle Buck just isn’t Christmas-y enough to qualify as a bona fide Christmas movie. The plot doesn’t hinge on any seasonal happenings and all the hallmarks of the holiday itself are missing. A feel-good family movie can be set during the winter without being a Christmas movie. When it comes to identifying a genuine Christmas movie, other traits are important, but the holiday has to stay in the picture.

Despite the snowy backdrop, Uncle Buck’s setting is never explicitly identified as Christmastime. The word Christmas is only said once, in a throwaway line by Buck himself, referencing a past Christmas gift from his brother. None of the characters are counting down to the big day, and the only festivities we see are a birthday and a raucous high school party that is anything but Christmas-y. Swapping the season for the spring would certainly change the tone, but there’s not a single plot detail that would need to be adjusted.

While the film has the uniquely cozy quality that comes from a wintry setting, there’s not much holiday atmosphere to be found. Uncle Buck doesn’t have any close-ups of twinkling Christmas lights or shining ornaments. Other than a few vaguely seasonal sweaters, it doesn't look like any of the best Christmas movies at all. The lack of Christmas music is an even bigger absence when it comes to establishing a holiday tone. Loved or despised, Christmas music is a defining quality of the season, and a huge part of what makes something feel Christmas-y, rather than just endearing.

While utilizing a definition of "Christmas movie" that includes Die Hard might offer a fair bit of wiggle room, Uncle Buck just doesn't measure up. The idea of a Christmas movie is bigger than just December 25th, but the holiday is an undeniable part of the equation. When it comes to that vital component, this film comes up short. Uncle Buck is a heart-warming family movie that would make for great Christmas viewing, but it’s not a Christmas movie.

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