by Jason Koenigsberg
Scrolling around Netflix I found Joe Dante’s 1989 horror-comedy The ‘Burbs. From an era when Tom Hanks was a strictly comedic leading man and not giving Oscar caliber performances on a regular basis, The ‘Burbs is one of the best films from this stage of his career. He plays a regular Joe living in a suburban neighborhood with some close-knit but eccentric neighbors on his block who become convinced that their newest neighbors that moved in are part of a murderous cult. The sarcastic tone is great and accompanied by a fantastic score and shots that could easily work in a serious thriller. The recently deceased Carrie Fisher plays Tom Hanks’ wife and she added a grounded sense of realism that was needed as all the other nosy neighbors act as bizarre and hilarious characters especially the overtly militaristic and appropriately named Rumsfield played by Bruce Dern. The late Rick Ducommun is also memorable as an affably clueless intrusive neighbor and Henry Gibson is great as the doctor and head of the strange household they all think are killers. The ‘Burbs is one of the funniest films for all of the actors involved and a hilarious spoof of all the cliches of horror thrillers.
The ‘Burbs is currently available to stream on Netflix.