Wow. Mike Epps is no John Candy. Being a fan of the movie, I was highly skeptical of this series and it looked like I was going to be right. The premiere episode started out lagging as it introduced us to Buck Russell and I immediately dislike him: he prefers to hang out with his buddy in a bar building a beer can pyramid rather than finding a job. Ugh.
My first thoughts were “They destroyed John Hughes’ creation and Mike Epps is not nearly as funny as John Candy.” While the basic premise is still there the pacing was slow and it wasn’t all that funny. In fact, it was kind of dumb. Alexis and Will must go out of town, this time in separate directions for work. This is a 21st century update and she too has a career which is the reason for the move from Atlanta to Chicago. (Which, by the way, seems too contrived. Why? We meet the family in a settled state. Yet one of Tia’s lines makes it feel like they just moved there, not like they had been there a while.)
The kids are not sure of Uncle Buck at first but after a series of missteps (that include young Maizy learning to twerk) and close calls, they learn to lean on him when they need him. Tia even loses some of her surliness.
The saving grace of the first episode is the super cute Maizy Russell who, in my opinion, does a better job than the original Maizy, Gaby Hoffmann. All she had to do was sit there and be adorable but she does it well.
Without risking spoilers … I had to wait for the next half hour for the funny to occur.
S1:E2 Ride Along
Now that we’ve been introduced to the core cast of characters we can add the funny. In this half of the premiere, little Maizy is selling Sunny Scout cookies and wants nothing more than the Cheetah necklace but she is painfully shy. Her mom tries to help her but it doesn’t work out so well. Dad’s solution is to take them to work but Mom says no way. She sees it as a form of cheating and it’s here we learn that Alexis is from a well off family and the Russell family is not.
Enter Uncle Buck! (This will be the theme …he’s going to be the hero no matter how he bumbles it…)
The adults get caught up in selling the cookies: Alexis is trying to make it about not cheating; Will doesn’t want Maizy to struggle like he did and Buck’s just out to help Maizy win. The moral of the story here is that sometimes things can get so blown out of proportion that helping just makes it worse.
I will say this half of the premiere was much funnier. I was afraid that it was going to be terrible but it turned out to be not half bad. The verdict on Mike Epps? He does not bring the funny to the role that John Candy did but since this is “based on” the John Hughes film, we’ll hold judgement until episodes 3 and 4.
It’s unclear how many episodes will be in the season. It’s currently listed with just 8 episodes (IMDbpro.com) and ABC is running it in one hour blocks.