Film Review – The ‘Burbs (1989)

The Burbs - post

Title – The ‘Burbs (1989)

Director – Joe Dante (Gremlins)

Cast – Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher, Rick Ducommun, Corey Feldman, Henry Gibson

Plot – Welcome to the suburbs and more specifically Mayfield Place, a quiet street in a typical American town, or so it seems. On holidays and looking to relax, Ray Peterson (Hanks) and his neighbours including Lt. Mark Rumsfield (Dern) and the hapless Art (Ducommun) start to look more intently into the weird goings on of their new neighbours the Klopek’s.

 “Nobody knocks off an old man in my neighbourhood and gets away with it”

Review by Eddie on 17/12/2014

Something 80’s movies did better than perhaps any other decade was put simply, fun. A huge range of films released in the much loved decade had fun as their number one mantra and director Joe Dante was a filmmaker that well and truly delivered on this front. The Howling, Explorers and his much loved Gremlins were all fine examples of this entertaining spirit that washed over many an 80’s gem and Dante tried in similar vein but less successfully to replicate the good times in later films Gremlins 2, Matinee, Small Soldiers, Looney Tunes: Back in Action and The Hole. During this 80’s high time of fun Dante produced one of the decades last bastions of silly good times with his 1989 hit, The ‘Burbs.

A fitting movie for any person that may have found themselves apart of Suburbia, The ‘Burbs is a film entirely set in a particularly interesting street where neighbours spy upon neighbours, dogs do their business on other peoples lawns oh and a seemingly murderous family conduct nightly experiments and dig graves in the backyard. Dante taps into the spirit of neighbourly comrade and the gossip that comes with it and makes the brave move of keeping the action entirely set in the suburb of Mayfield Place which gives The ‘Burbs a real sense of character and atmosphere that was so prevalent and important to films of its vintage. It’s all part of the films charm and gentle tone and makes us the viewer feel a part of the adventures these characters have, led by the always enjoyable Tom Hanks.

The ‘Burbs features an incredible variety of rag tag figures with Tom Hanks’s wishing for a quiet housebound, pyjama clad holiday at home Ray Peterson the central figure. Surrounded by Carrie Fisher’s demanding wife Carol, Bruce Dern’s army obsessed ex-lieutenant Mark Rumsfield, Ray’s obnoxious best friend Art and Corey Feldman’s typically loud mouthed teen Ricky, The ‘Burbs succeeds most completely at creating an interesting and oft relatable bunch of figures in an at times downright bonkers story. Not a whole lot that happens throughout the movie makes a whole lot of sense, right down to the explosive and overblown finale but it doesn’t matter as the key flow on from having too much fun, is not really caring about what does and doesn’t seem to glue together.

An easy to watch, occasionally laugh out loud tale, The ‘Burbs has slowly become a lesser seen example of the 80’s comedy staples and a somewhat forgotten part of Tom Hanks’s impressive filmography. Joe Dante is still a prevalent filmmaker in today’s market but sadly his films have been relegated to direct to disc or TV show fair and it would be lovely to see him once more tap back into his 80’s mojo and provide us with something along these lines, as fun is still as important to films as it ever was.

3 and a half femur bones out of 5

8 responses to “Film Review – The ‘Burbs (1989)

  1. I feel like this is a bigger movie over here, not Big-big but not forgotten. The ‘Burbs is popular in my circle of friends, we still quote it and mention scenes and it’s a movie that seems to pop up somewhat often in conversation with people, I have the impression it’s gotten more popular over time here in the US maybe not so in Australia(or we all have awful taste in comedy here that could be true too).

  2. I love your review. As a huge film nut, I actually introduced my fiance to this not even a week ago as one of my “Must see” views (I’ve been slowly trying to get to be as big of a film snob as I am). I was pleased to see it was still getting the attention it deserved. Thank you.

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