Ray (Tom Hanks) is taking a week off from work in what has recently (and unfortunately) been dubbed a ‘staycation’. More sensible known as a holiday spent at home. Wife Carol (Carrie Fisher) thinks Ray should take the more traditional route of taking the family away to a more conventional holiday spot, but perhaps Carol doesn’t realise that this particular cul-de-sac is one of the most interesting semi-circles in America, apparently only bested by the one that formerly held one North West…
Because Ray’s neighbours are crazy in appealingly eccentric ways. (In fact to an extent this particular crew shares many parallels with the residents of Perfection Nevada.) There is the crazy war veteran, the metalhead stoner, the cantankerous old guy obsessed with his lawn and small yappy dog and the slobby and clumsy friend.
With such a disparate group of personalities it is no wonder that they don’t always get along, and neighbourly rivalries are made evident. But there is one thing that unites these people banded together by proximity – the fascination with the Klopeks.
The Klopeks are the new residents in the area, having moved in months previous yet never since having shown their face. Everyone is fascinated by the Klopeks and their large dark home. The rattling. The reclusiveness. The silhouette at the window. The smell…
Eventually Ray and crew allow their interest to become an obsession which eventually verges on paranoia, leading them to make decisions best described as ‘unneighbourly’.
The ‘Burbs is one of those films that seems straightforward in your memory but nonetheless boasts some moments and sequences that are better than you remember. It toes the line between absurdity and reality well, never allowing the potentially dark themes to dominate, and wisely rationing the sillier moments so that they have an impact.
There is an especially awkward ‘getting to know the new neighbours’ scene that will make the concept of tinned sardines even more grotesque and unpleasant than it already should be, and a finale that wraps everything together well.
Tom Hanks is in fine form as Ray, proving once again that he has the almost unique ability to transcend the material and enhance anything that he appears in – especially in the 80s and 90s. Carrie Fisher is the stabilising voice of reason as Ray’s wife and Bruce Dern nearly steals the show as the all too intense ex-soldier with a conspiracy theory for every situation.
The ‘Burbs might not warrant inclusion alongside Hanks’ more well known efforts of the era, but that doesn’t mean it is not worthy. This is a light absurdist comedy that you should welcome into your home for a couple hours.
Final Rating – 7.5 / 10. The boobs in these ‘burbs are pretty bloody funny.