THE 'BURBS

a film by Joe Dante released through Universal Pictures in 1989

A meandering narrative is balanced by intriguing characterizations and outrageous humor in Joe Dane's quirky The 'Burbs.  Despite there being some genuine tension amidst the climax, the real joy of the film may be its loving examination of venerable suburbanite tropes, specifically, the appeal of TV game shows and ball games, the quiet discussions of men with cigars out on the lawn, the grand freedom and ability to cultivate one's property to maximize its beauty, the irresistible lure of gossip.  The 'Burbs both endorses and refutes the venerable axiom: Idle hands are the Devil's workshop.  Jerry Goldsmith's score, alternately cartoony and apocalyptic, perfectly encapsulates the film's schizophrenia. 

This was, without a doubt, the late Rick Ducommun's greatest role.  He outshines Tom Hanks in interest (though Hanks's character, as the skeptical Everyman, is the more critical), and evinces a potential to become a more caustic, boorish John Candy.  If The 'Burbs works at all, it's because of him.

 

★★★☆☆

Best for ages 10+

 

 

FEATURING

TOM HANKS, BRUCE DERN, RICK DUCOMMUN, CARRIE FISHER, WENDY SCHALL, HENRY GIBSON, AND COREY FELDMAN

2023 Ian C. Bloom