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The 'Burbs (1989)

6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 45,198 users  
Reviews: 246 user | 60 critic

An overstressed suburbanite and his paramilitaric neighbor struggle to prove their paranoid theory that the new family in town is a front for a cannibalistic cult.

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Title: The 'Burbs (1989)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Rick Ducommun ...
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Brother Theodore ...
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Joe, Garbageman #2
Cory Danziger ...
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Detective #1
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Detective #2
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Storyline

This story takes place in a typical American neighborhood, when some new neighbors come to live in the house next to Ray Peterson. These new people are really strange; nobody has ever seen them, their house is a real mess, and during the night you can hear weird noises from their basement. The only thing they know is their name: Klopeks. One day Walter (an old man of the neighborhood) suddenly disappears and everyone starts to suspect the Klopeks... Written by Chris Makrozahopoulos <makzax@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He's a man of peace in a savage land... Suburbia. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Horror | Mystery

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 February 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Life in the Burbs  »

Box Office

Gross:

$36,602,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although the panning at the beginning of the film probably depicts the film as taking place in the Des Moines Iowa area, several references, including the Illinois license plates on the garbage truck, place this film in the Chicago area See more »

Goofs

The pineapple and tray under Art's arm change positions between shots. See more »

Quotes

Art Wiengartner: I don't know if you've noticed, but there's bars on the basement windows here.
Ray Peterson: They've got holes in their porch, too.
Art Wiengartner: Argh! That was a booby trap.
Ray Peterson: Are you okay?
Art Wiengartner: Yeah.
Ray Peterson: Oh, booby trap. I'm not gonna pay for that.
Art Wiengartner: We shouldn't pay for that, we should sue them.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the Universal logo, the camera zooms into Earth and to where the film takes place. See more »

Connections

Features Race with the Devil (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

Won't You Be My Neighbor?
(uncredited)
Written and Performed by Fred Rogers
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A deliciously black comedy...
17 August 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The world of black comedies has seen few truly classic entries in the past few years. It's a very specific sub genre of comedy that is extremely hard to do well as films like Very Bad Things frequently signify. Too many of Hollywood's more recent offerings feature truly tasteless gags that poke fun at subjects that should simply be left well enough alone. Well I have to say that Hollywood could learn a thing or two from its own past in this department. I recently rediscovered a childhood favourite of mine, The Burbs, and I have to admit that age has not in the least bit dulled the film's razor sharp wit and acid tongued dialogue

Tom Hanks plays Ray Peterson, an overstressed suburbanite who's decided to spend his vacation lounging around the house in a vain effort to relax. Of course he finds his efforts hindered by the constant presence of his somewhat excitable neighbors Art Weingartner (Rick Ducommun) and Mark Rumsfield (Bruce Dern) who suspect the new family in the neighbourhood, the Klopeks, of being mass murderers. Together these three decide to look into the suspicious nature of their new neighbors and just what exactly it is they get up to at night, the time when the otherwise reclusive Klopeks seem to be at their most active.

The premise is basically the set up for another of Joe Dante's (who directed both Gremlins and its remake in all but name, Small Soldiers) bedlam filled romps through suburbs in which he casts a sideways glance at all things American dream.

Quite frankly, my nostalgia for this movie makes it hard to find fault with it. Hanks is as funny as ever, playing it relatively straight compared to his other performances of the period and bringing a lovely shade of deep seated unease to an otherwise grounded character. Bruce Dern fills his role wonderfully, as the military obsessed Rumsfield, a character surprisingly reminiscent of survivalist Burt Gummer from the Tremors movies in both his nature and ability to steal scenes. The only weak link in the leading trio is Ducommun, which is a shame as it is really Art that drives the story more than any other character in the movie. Sure, Art has to be slightly obnoxious and a little irritating but Ducommun overplays these aspects so much that I began to find it painful to watch him as the end of the movie approached. It's hardly a surprise when Hanks tries to kill him. I can't help but feel that perhaps the late John Candy would have fit the role slightly better, bringing some more human and likable qualities to the character.

At times however, The Burbs can feel a little uneasy in its pacing and sense of humour. Scenes like the screaming at the bone, although funny, seem out of place in what is otherwise a movie with a very dry sense of humour. Meanwhile the Klopeks are unveiled as characters perhaps a little too late in the story for the audience to truly develop any kind of opinions about them.

Despite some small problems however, The Burbs remains an extremely funny movie with some terrific dialogue and almost universally good performances from its cast. I defy anyone not to laugh at Rumsfield's fall from the roof of his house or every man Ray's furious rant at the movie's close. For fans of black comedies, The Burbs is a perfect antidote to the current glut of obnoxious Hollywood gross out comedies and the Farrelly Brothers increasingly desperate to offend pieces.


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