The ’Burbs (1989)

6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10

Fun movie

Movie has faults and could have been served better as an even darker comedy

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The ’Burbs

Studio:  Imagine Entertainment

Genre(s):  Comedy

Release Date(s):  February 17, 1989

MPAA Rating:  PG


Nothing like an awkward dinner with neighbors?

Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks) and his wife Carol (Carrie Fisher) live in a small, peaceful neighborhood where everyone knows each other…which has its pros and cons.  When a new family moves into Ray’s neighboring home, the neighborhood instantly beings questioning their actions since they are rarely seen or heard.  Now Ray, Art (Rick Ducommun), and Mark (Bruce Dern) are out to determine what the Klopeks are hiding.

Directed by Joe Dante, The ’Burbs is a satirical dark comedy that looks at suburban neighborhoods.  The movie was met with mixed reviews but became a cult classic over the years.

I wasn’t a huge ’Burbs fan.  I thought the film had its moments and I liked that it had an almost Alfred Hitchcock style of tongue-in-cheek to murder and spying.  Rewatching the movie, I find it still has the same problems, but it does raise some really weird questions.


Sock it to me?

The story drew a lot of comparisons to 1981 movie Neighbors which had neighbors at war.  The story I think is more like Rear Window meets The Trouble with Harry.  The whole script has a weird tone and the ending of the movie (to me) is even weirder in that the neighbors were right…does that mean you should be a nosy neighbor?

Tom Hanks is quite young in the movie and I can recall it was odd to see him as a parent and a suburbanite at the time.  He’s paired with Carrie Fisher who always seemed so much older since she had been around longer though she and Hanks are the same age.  Bruce Dern and Rick Ducommun play the “wacky” neighbors and Corey Feldman and his friends just watch events unfold.  Henry Gibson and Courtney Gains play part of the creepy family.  The movie is the last film of both Brother Theodore and Gale Gordon.  Dante regular Dick Miller also appears with Star Trek vet Robert Picardo as garbage men.



The movie is rather “’80s” and looks it.  The movie was shot on the backlots of Universal and never leaves “the street”.  The movie’s street has been used multiple times so you can sometimes spot houses from The ’Burbs in other movies and shows.  Dante also sometimes really stylizes the film that doesn’t always fit in with the story.

The ’Burbs is a rather harmless film.  It could have been a lot better or worse because there is a lot to explore in the world of the suburbs.  It is rather ironic that Wisteria Lane utilized this set for Desperate Housewives since both The ’Burbs and Desperate Housewives sometimes had similar themes…those suburbs are wacky.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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