The ‘Burbs (1989)

I’m honestly a little astounded that “The ‘Burbs” hasn’t found a second life via cult audiences, because this has cult classic written all over it: Despite the presence of an A-list cast that includes Tom Hanks and Carrie Fisher, the participation of Spielbergian director Joe Dante, and a comedic story that often borders on the downright horrific, it feels tailor-made for genre audiences. Hanks is in full-on asshole mode throughout, which is actually perfect for the movie’s hard edges, because turning America’s Dad into a whiny, grumpy, irresponsible father and husband is a bold move unto itself, and while Carrie Fisher is wasted in a thankless role as his wife, her presence at least ads some acerbic subtext to the proceedings. There’s also that aforementioned Spielbergian vibe throughout, which focuses on the surface normality of suburban neighborhoods via brightly lit set pieces and diegetic, sitcom-ready music, which Dante gleefully subverts once in a while by focusing on the rot and decay hiding just beneath the shiny surface. It’s a great movie to watch on a quiet weekend afternoon, and has plenty of standout moments that make the whole thing go down easy.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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