As we continue on our movie review journey, at times I struggle to find what the next movie to talk about. As I have seen thousands of movies and some multiple times, I have a bad gauge on what has been seen. When I worked in the video store back in the day, you could rent three movies for free at a time. Which essentially meant about 6 straight hours a night of stuff to see, and trust me, I watched 3 movies a night. So I have seen a lot of stuff, and not all very good. So, back to my struggle of recommending something I think is solid that you should have seen. This one comes from my bud Mark Espinosa. As he said, “I don’t think as many people have seen The ‘Burbs that we think?” You know Mark, you are right. My second favorite Tom Hanks ‘80s comedy.
This one has a wonderful starting point. Ray Peterson (played by Tom Hanks) is off from work for a week, where he plans to stay home and relax. He lives in a nice little non-descript suburb. One evening he notices some late night noises coming from the new neighbors’ house, but dismisses it. But his two other neighbors are not so easily convinced. They are played by the late great Richard Ducommun and Bruce ““ 2 Oscar” I have two Oscars” Dern. Both are adding absolute comedy gold to this with Hanks. Eventually, the curiosity grows and the team of three begin snooping for more and more info on the weird new neighbors, the Klopeks. Is their older neighbor down the road, Walter, missing? Did they kill him? It gets crazier and crazier. But I will not spoil any more about the story because it is hysterical at times and a total gem of a flick. But on to the other important parts:
The cast. I already mentioned the three amazing actors above. Let’s just say Tom Hanks could do comedy in his sleep because his 80s run of comedy flicks is almost unbeatable. But let’s round out the rest of the cast. His wife in the flick is played by Princess Leia herself, Carrie Fisher. Also not her only time starring in a role with Tom. A few years before this, she’s in The Man With One Red Shoe with him. Okay, I mentioned two of his neighbors above… how about Bruce Dern’s wife in this flick, Wendy Schaal? I know her from a ton of flicks, but you will recognize her voice as Francine on American Dad. How about the teenage neighbor that does not appear to have parents ever home? That role is played by… of course… Corey Feldman. But this is 1989 Corey Feldman, after Gremlins, Goonies, Lost Boys, Stand by Me and License to Drive. I mean, he was a name, and he is supporting cast in this. Last, but not least, are some of the Klopeks. The head of the Klopek family is played by the late Henry Gibson. I could probably write a twenty-five page rundown on this guy, but let’s just say if you don’t know who he is, seeing this movie is not what I am going to be shaking my head at. And another one of the Klopeks, Hans, is played by Courtney Gains. Which is most noticeable as the Malachai in Children of the Corn horror flick. This is a few years after that, so he keeps the creepy vibe going. Solid, solid cast, and I am not mentioned a few.
The second thing I always like to talk about is the director. And I will, but I want to start with the crew of this flick. It kind of is a weird grouping, so bear with me for a minute as I ramble. So this film is directed by Joe Dante, written by Dana Olsen and produced by Ron Howard and Michael Finnell. But here is the cool part, this is essentially the crew for the 1977 Ron Howard directorial debut Grand Theft Auto. So they all know one another and all held different roles on that film and twelve years later getting back together to collaborate again on this. Three of them, I believe ,work together in ‘84 on Gremlins. But this group enjoys working together and essentially all got their start on Happy Days and Grand Theft Auto. Okay, but back to each individual. New Jersey’s own Joe Dante, who prior to this has made Piranha, The Howling, Gremlins, Explorers, and Innerspace. Solid, solid flicks. Dana Olsen after this collaborates on a few live action cartoon flicks like George of the Jungle and Inspector Gadget. I only remember that he helped write the screenplay for the underrated John Carpenter flick Memoirs of the Invisible Man. And the producers, as I said earlier, are Finnell and Howard. Finnell essentially produces almost everything Dante makes in his career, but I remember him as a funny crew credit in Airplane. It is something like “in charge of a bunch of things” or something like that. How random. And Ron Howard is Opie. ‘Nuff said.
I didn’t forget my bread and butter of any flick. The quotes:
- “Ray, there’s no doubt anymore. This is real. Your neighbors are murdering people. They’re chopping them up. They’re burying them in their backyard. Ray… this is Walter.” AAAAAAHHHHHH!!” (the scream is so great)
- Smells like they’re cooking a goddamn cat over there.
- I’m gonna go do something productive. I’m gonna go watch television.
- Oh-ho. Got somebody tied up in the ol’ cellar, have yah, Rube?
- Safety is my middle name. I thought his middle name was Louis.
- Don’t you make a move, sonny. I was eighteen months in the bush and I could snap your neck in a heartbeat.
- Hans! Oh-ho! A fine Christian name. Hans Christian Andersen! What are you, Catholic?
- Dude, it’s cool, you should hang with us! We called the Pizza Dude!
The pizza dude. I think I have called the guy delivering pizza that name since I saw this flick for the first time at eleven years old. Hearing Corey Feldman say that line in this flick and then as the voice of Donatello in the live action TMNT really rings so clearly in my head. Crazy. But one really cool nugget: Dick Miller and Robert Picardo have cameos in this flick as garbage men. Dick Miller is in, I think, every Joe Dante Flick, and Robert Picardo is “The Cowboy” in Innerspace. I think his greatest contribution to film history. Two other cameos I forgot about. Franklyn Ajaye plays the detective in the Burbs, but he is “the Fly” in Car Wash. Classic. And the other detective? Rance Howard, Ron’s dad. Also father of Clint Howard. But here is the coolest fact. Rance Howard wrote Grand Theft Auto. And the whole things comes full circle.
Please check out this super under-rated gem. I assure you, it is fun, and I may even show my daughters because I don’t think they even curse in it. The problem is that it appears to not be streaming anywhere, so buying the dvd on eBay may be the only solution. Looks like they list for two bucks, so if you hate it, please send me the bill.