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A Mixed Bag for Labor Day

Summer may be winding down, but the flow of movies shows no sign of abating. Here's a checklist of Labor Day diversions, from pleasant surprises to bona fide bummers.

UNCLE BUCK. There are only two kinds of people moviemaker John Hughes loves: kids and overgrown kids. Buck Russell (John Candy) is a shining example of the latter, a sweet sleazeball slob who's spent the greater part of his life playing hooky from grown-up commitments. Suddenly this big blue-collar ne'er-do-well is pressed into emergency baby-sitting duties. While his Yuppie brother and sister-in-law tend to a sick relative, Uncle Buck is summoned to the suburbs to oversee his bratty teenage niece Tia (Jean Louisa Kelly) and little Maizy and Miles (Gaby Hoffman and Macaulay Culkin). Though it's a given that the hapless Buck emerges a nurturing hero, Candy triumphs over the predictability of the plot with his finest screen performance to date. Under Hughes's sympathetic eye, this often misused comic actor finally gets to show his unique colors. Hughes's amiable, deeply conservative film (the idea of teen sex sends him into a tizzy) manages to be consistently funny without resorting to silly slapstick. It sags only in the home stretch when Hughes feels compelled to pour on the "heart."