The ‘Burbs (1989)

the burbsIMDb

This isn’t one of Tom Hank’s best comedies, in my opinion. Of course, I didn’t grow up in the suburbs, so maybe some of the humor was lost on me. I prefer small town wackiness, that stuff is hilarious.

The ‘Burbs plays on all the stereotypes of suburbia. The couple who just want to live peacefully and stay out of the neighborhood drama. The busybody who’s up in everyone’s business. The one house with neighbors that no one ever sees. The fact that you never really know what your neighbors are us to, and the paranoia that can breed. Except most strange neighbors aren’t as weird as the ones here (Although my parents’ former neighbor who liked to water his front yard in his tight-whiteys all summer is pretty close).

There are some laughs here, mostly when the neighborhood men get together to find out what the local weirdos are up to. Hanks is his usual charming-funny self. Bruce Dern is perfect as an over-the-top former Marine with a personal home arsenal. Rick Ducommun rounds out the group and is responsible for instigating the others into action. The supporting cast– including Corey Feldman, Carrie Fisher, and Henry Gibson– flush out the neighborhood, but could have had bigger roles.

Overall, this movie was OK. Not that funny, but I’ve seen way worse. I’d love to see Tom Hanks return to comedies, but hopefully ones of a higher calibre than this.

Rating: D

The ‘Burbs is another movie made back when Tom Hanks did comedies. It really is a shame he doesn’t do them anymore because he is a very funny guy. This is not as brilliant as some of earlier comedies like Big, but there is still fun to be had here.

The film revolves around a fictitious suburban street of Mayfield Place, where Ray Peterson (Hanks) is hoping to have a relaxing week home from work. His holiday is interrupted by his neighbours and their crazy shenanigans. His friend next door, Art (Rick Ducommun), is convinced their new neighbours, the Klopeks, are up to something. He believes they are murdering people and burying them in their backyard. Ray tries to ignore his friend’s claims until his dog brings a large bone that could only be from a human into their backyard. They join up with their other neighbour, a super patriotic ex-marine (Bruce Dern), to uncover the truth. All while the rest of the street looks on with interest.

This film is entertaining. It takes the mundane things that neighbours argue about and spoofs them to great effect. The neighbour’s dog crapping on your lawn and arguing about who has the nicest lawn in the street and satirised here, and it is very well done. The highlight of the film for me is Bruce Dern as Lt. Mark Rumsfield. He is great as the kooky ex-soldier, who somehow has a hot young wife and access to plenty of military equipment that he probably shouldn’t. The film opens with him walking out to raise the American flag up his flag pole. When I was growing up, we all knew one house on the street that proudly flew their country’s flag. This film pokes fun at suburban life really well, anyone who grew up in the suburbs should be able to find something in this movie to relate too, I certainly did.

Tom Hanks is very good as the protagonist that just wants to relax. He is charming and charismatic as he always is and ably assisted by a comedic supporting cast. Carrie Fisher is Ray’s wife and has some good moments complaining about how her husband should be relaxing but instead is getting up to no good with his bumbling friends. Corey Feldman also appears in one of his last relevant movies as a young neighbour who invites all of his friends over to enjoy the show Hanks and his friends are putting on.

This film does get somewhat dark towards the end, when it’s uncovered that the Klopek family might actually be up to something, but it’s nothing too dramatic. Hanks has been better in other films and there are plenty of better 80s comedies to watch before this, but the burbs is still entertaining and probably worth a look if you’re interested.

Rating: C+

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