ABC Film Challenge – 80s Movies – J – The ‘Burbs (1989) Movie Review

We are under J because of the director Joe Dante.

Director: Joe Dante

Writer: Dana Olsen (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher, Rock Ducommun, Corey Feldman, Wendy Schaal, Henry Gibson

Plot: An overstressed suburbanite and his fellow neighbors are convinced that the new family on the block are part of a murderous Satanic cult.


Tagline – He’s a stranger in an even stranger land… Suburbia

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Silly Comedy

Story: The ‘Burbs starts as we head to the suburban neighbourhood, where Ray (Hanks), Mark (Dern) and Rick (Ducommun) all start wondering about the newest member of their neighbourhood, a mysterious family that don’t tend to their garden or come out in day time, with the rumours spiralling out of control, the guys do look to find an answer.

The deeper the group get, the wilder the imagines run with just who the neighbours are, from vampires, to satanic cult members, but just how far with the rumours go.

Thoughts on The ‘Burbs

Characters – Ray is the member of the neighbourhood everyone turns to, he is trying to have a week away from the stress of work, which only gets caught up when the rest of the neighbours want to learn about the mysterious new neighbour, where he must lead the investigation, being the most normal of the three main group. Mark is the military nut that will be able to undercover, but wants to solve the problems quickly, letting other people do the more dangerous tasks. Art is the member of the group that gets thrown into the wackier ideas, which sees him getting the slapstick laughs through the film, with Carol being the long suffering wife of Ray that just wants him to have fun on his time off.

PerformancesTom Hanks is strong enough in the leading role, he does make himself the most likeable of the three main guys, while Bruce Dern does get the most laughs, even if we waste Carrie Fisher at times.

StoryThe story here follows three neighbours that start to question the new neighbours believing there is a bigger mystery about who they are, which leads them to investigate the mysterious family. This is a story that just shows how suspicion will only escalate into something deadly, when the rumours are just looking to make the boring lives interesting. We don’t get into the levels we could get too, with the hints of something big, only for it to end up being more of a problem between grown men.

Comedy/MysteryThe comedy in the film is a mix of slapstick, which doesn’t really hit, while the clever movements of Hanks which will get some low key laughs, with the mystery being about the neighbours being the main part of the story.

SettingsThe film is set in suburbia and shows how the neighbours are getting too close and suspicious about what is going on within their street.


Scene of the Movie – Ricky watching the events unfold.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It kind of feels flat.

Final Thoughts This is a comedy that misses more often than not and ends up lacking in the story side of the film.

Overall: Flat Comedy.

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