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The 'burbs has many more layers than you see at first glance

Updated on July 21, 2011
Let's go see the new neighbors.
Let's go see the new neighbors. | Source

Try out some other odd Tom Hanks commedies

The 'Burbs
The 'Burbs

Sometimes it pays to be antisocial


Okay, I'll admit right off the bat that this movie doesn't appeal to everyone. Dark comedies tend to be that way. Either you feel that it took the 'dark' a bit too far, or not as far as you'd like. But for me, this one works just about perfectly.

And it's all in the jokes.

The movie follows Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks) and his neighbors as they decide what to do about the new family in the cul de sac, the Klopeks. Their yard has completely died, they make odd noises in the middle of the night, and nobody actually remembers even seeing them.

They begin to get nosy and start suspecting their new neighbors of the foulest of play.

I'll admit that when my family first saw this one, it was fun enough. Enough to get us to see it again at least. But it just felt odd. But as we watched it again, we began to notice stuff.

Did you know there's a man who eats dogfood in the movie? We didn't. Not at first at least.

There are gags in the background all the time here. It's really quite a character comedy. Despite all the zany, crazy things that happen, it's the characters that sell this one. And very often, if you're watching the story, you may just miss a very funny character moment in the background.

The moment when Art (Rick Ducommun), tries to pull a credit card out of his wallet is funnier than it should be. The conspiracy theorizing between Art and Mr. Rumsfield (Bruce Dern) gets so childish and inane. Even the soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith has fun, at times parodying Goldsmith's work on previous movies. There's a moment where the theme from Patton is played out in whistles.

My family tends to watch something dark but funny for our Friday the 13th parties, and The 'burbs has probably been selected more than its fair share. There are some real gems of dialogue here that we quote to no end. And yet I keep running into plenty of people who've never seen the movie.

Now, I said the movie won't appeal to everyone. But you kinda have to see it to know if it does or doesn't.

For me, I give it 8 / 10.

The 'burbs is rated PG for some language, tense situations and a generally morbid tone at times.


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    • Cogerson profile image


      7 years ago from Virginia

      Very nicely done....I just got through giving my Tom Hanks hub a major facelift and I was looking at The Burbs and thinking I need to watch that movie again...I have it ranked at #26 of 38 Hanks movies....and then I see your hub....weird timing. I love The Burbs...I have seen it about 10 tens....including twice in the theater. My wife has failed to get through the movie both times I tried to get her to watch it.....I always thought a better ending would have been...the neighbors were innocent and Ray and his crew really do blow up an innocent neighbor's house.....any way great it up and interesting...great job.


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