The ‘Burbs (1989)

“You were up at the crack of dawn watching a dog poop.”

Justin’s Rating: Mow, mow, mow my lawn

Justin’s Review: One of America’s most infamous inventions — the sprawling middle-class wasteland of identical houses and cul-de-sacs — receives a detailed and twisted analysis in The ‘Burbs. It may look like an ordinary street, but soon one is the wiser. Ray (Hanks) is beginning a vacation that he’d rather spend at home, hanging with his retired military friend and his next door nuisance. While the neighborhood teens watch on, these three turn the scope of their interest to their spooky new neighbors, who are digging in the back yard at night and conducting experiments in the basement.

Ray and his pals are little more than grown-up children, which produces most of the film’s joy. They’ve seen one too many horror movies, tried one too many action stunts, and lived in the same place one too many days. The sole voice of reason comes from Ray’s wife (Carrie Fisher), who unfortunately spends the time criticizing and sniping at Ray, and not enough time choking out Jabba the Hutt.

This type of film is nearly predictable, which is why the party of teenagers gathering to party and watch the unfolding events is a joke turned back onto the film. Really, who cares who these freaky neighbors are? The fun is getting to know them through paranoia and suspicion. Hanks does a great job of going from mildly quirky to utterly conspiracy minded, and his final arm-waving speech (with flames and police in the background) is treated with typical Hanks outrageousness.

Maybe, just maybe, we all would like to live on a street like this.

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