Reviewed Jun 23, 2012
The ‘Burbs central premise feeds on the paranoid urban legends whispered in blanket tents at each and every childhood sleepover; one of the neighbours just isn’t right. Maybe it’s because they only come out at night, maybe they’ve been DIYing themselves a murder castle? Perhaps there’s something as simple as ( true story) the, ahem, exotic plants that grow indoors that gives the game away. Loons lurk amongst us, and if TV news has taught us anything “it’s always the quiet ones”, and they’re usually best spotted by the length of their lawn.
Hanks’ skill brings a sense of authenticity to the back-lot set (later used in Desperate Housewives); his everyman qualities help ground not only the caricatures that orbit around him, but also the short walk between concern and eye twitching vigilantism.
There’s a nice central message about reserving judgement and even better one regarding not trusting someone as far as you can throw them. It’s truly funny, not for crude jokes or gross out humour, but because there’s good character acting and it’s easy to empathise with the spiralling madness despite the driven plot. I hate to sound old and fusticated and say “they don’t make ‘em like they used to”, but I really miss films like ‘The ‘Burbs’.