the-burbs-movie-poster-1989-1020203502

Review: THE BURBS (1989)

Best Bad Quote:
[Chanting] “I want to kill, ev’-ry-one. Satan is good. Satan is our pal…”
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Spoiler Alert: I LOVE THIS MOVIE. I love it more than Big. I love it more than Forrest Gump. I love it more than anything Thomas Wunderbar Hanks has or will ever do. There’s something magical about early Tom… During the era of The Money Pit, Bachelor Party, and Turner and Hooch, dude had a fabulously manic energy that was infectious. While I can’t knock his maturation as an actor nor the impressive turn his career took post-Philadelphia, I sincerely miss the innocent, “I’m just here to go nuts in front of you and make you laugh” guy from the ’80s. The ‘Burbs is his masterpiece. This I say unto you.
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This movie holds a delightfully distorted microscope up to the comically eccentric neighbors of a random cul-de-sac in midwestern Wherever-the-Hell. Protecting themselves with lawn ornaments and the illusion of “normalcy,” they find– or rather decide– that their picket fence solidarity is being threatened by the foreign creepers who have moved into the spooky house down the street. Soon, the mysterious Klopeks (#Malachai!) are keeping the neighborhood up with late-night, basement bonfires and some pretty enthusiastic midnight digging in the backyard. Naturally, bored tongues start wagging, rumors begin, and in no time at all, everybody’s got his own conspiracy theory about just what it is the Klopeks are cookin’ in the cellar. The general consensus: DEAD BODIES!
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The premise is both ridiculous and wonderful, creating a satirical, suburban legend spoof, and the on-point cast operates with impressive, scenery-chewing panache. Hanks as Ray Peterson is an overstressed and under-enthused bottle of nerves just waiting to explode, which he does with his usual average joe eloquence. On staycation from a job he hates, his humdrum, middle-class life and personal loathing is evidenced by his lazy ineptitude and total disinterest in everything around him, including his wife (Carrie Fisher). However, the allure and excitement of possible, diabolical drama eventually drive him out of the doldrums, especially after he is egged on by his lovable but annoying BFF, Art (Rick Ducommun), the retired but still intense Lt. Rumsfield (Bruce Dern), and the token teen “dude,” Ricky (Corey Feldman), who have all elected him as local hero.
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These aces each bring their own unique talents to the table, keeping things entertaining with their clumsy hijinks, while Ray sets about denying, investigating, breaking and entering, toupee snatching, catching fire, and finally disappearing into his own suburban nightmare. Thus, the genius of the film’s slapstick commentary: it’s the judgy, paranoid peeping toms with nothing better to do than point fingers and spy on other people that are the real monsters. Suburbanites identify the outsiders, ostracize them, then shamelessly chase them out of town with patio torches. Xenophobia kills. If you take nothing else from this film, hopefully you will at least learn to love thy neighbor as thyself.
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Unless he’s a Klopek… Klopeks are friggin’ weird.
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Rating:
 
5 out of 5 Leave It to Cleavers
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