From deep in the underbelly of Chicago’s most notorious bowling alleys – appearing in a formidable haze of cigarette smoke, misty sweat and poor illumination comes Pal, our Deadbeat of the Month for November!

Pal’s screen time in Uncle Buck lasts less than two minutes but reaches such a high level of pristine deadbeat-ness that you physically feel sleazy afterwards. It’s like coming home from the annual carnival and feeling dirty even though you swear you didn’t touch anything. It’s the atmosphere you were just exposed to that made you feel this way, which is exactly how one of Pal’s lucky ladies feels after he sweet-talks her for over 3 seconds.


While Tia (Buck’s neice) is sulking in the bowling booth not bowling, Pal slithers in and tries to strike up a conversation. Before he opens his mouth we’re already deep into deadbeat territory. All the distinctive traits are represented; a shit-eating grin, black eye, tight slacks, finger in his beer, toothpick dangling, cigarette behind the ear and a lip issue that’s up for debate whether it’s a toothpick injury or herpes.

                                                                   Do you like all-terrain vehicles?
                                             I got a red Bronco parked out back. Wanna go for a ride?
With his finger lodged in his beer, he asks Tia if he can buy her one (classic deadbeat move). He also takes a guess that she’s a college student, probably a cheerleader and that she looks firm (she’s in high school). Tia does a decent job ignoring him while Buck finally notices what’s going on and yells at Pal to scram. Buck’s reputation around the old alley is stuff of legend, so Pal wastes no time in getting the hell outta there.


I’ve waited eleven months to hoist this creeper onto our deadbeat mantle. Why so long? Because November is the month when John Candy movies are screened the most in the TNUC lair, so it felt necessary. Aside from Planes, Trains and Automobiles, which is actually a “Thanksgiving” movie, Uncle Buck just feels like a holiday film, even though it isn’t.

Thanks for the memories, Pal. Hopefully you’re still alive out there, driving your Bronco around wearing only a jockstrap or something, because your life beyond that brief glimpse is the kind of thing I spend a lot of time thinking about. You were truly destined for Deadbeat stardom.

Since I just summarized the scene and posted almost every frame…we might as well watch it again!

*FUN FACT* – The actor who plays Pal (Dennis Cockrum) reprised the role in the short-lived Uncle Buck sitcom. His name was changed from Pal to “Skank” in the show, for unknown reasons.

[NOTE: DEADBEAT-OF-THE-MONTH is an ongoing saga giving thanks and praise to a chosen deadbeat character each month. To see the rest of em’, go here]


  1. Uncle Buck and Planes, Trains, & Automobiles are pure classics. You can never wrong with a John Hughes family film, especially one starring John Candy. Uncle T, do you own/watch “Dutch” during this holiday as well? Another Hughes Thanksgiving classic with Ed O’Neill. I believe Hughes has written/directed some of the best family holiday movies of all time and he will be truly missed, just like his good pal John Candy.

  2. Did you know that Dennis Cockrum played in code of silence with Chuck Norris? Funny thing that I noticed was while he was sitting in a car, he did the same toothpick trick but this time he didn’t gag himself. Lol

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