The 'Burbs ★★★

I'm wondering if this was inspiration, maybe subliminally, for Tom Waits' song "What's He Building in There?" Neighbor suspicions are there, of course, but there's also one line from this movie--"He has a right to know."--that almost found it's way into Waits' song. Waits growled, "We have a right to know."

You know who's irritating? Cory Feldman is irritating. It's been 30 years since I first saw that guy on screen, so maybe it's time for me to get past this, but Feldman just has an annoying face. He's in this movie way too much, representing the audience in a way as we voyeuristically spy on these suburbanites spying on their neighbors. I think I would rather have been represented by a quieter character rather than a loud-mouthed kid with a stupid grin.

One thing Tom Hanks does really well is stay out of other actors' ways. He's always had the Everyman quality, and here, he's mostly the perfect straight man with a cast of eccentric characters around him. Hanks is funny enough, but his performance is better because he allows Bruce Dern and Rick Ducommun to stand out. Dern is especially funny, both with the lines his character's given about stapling dog's asses shut or references to Tom Hanks' testicles and some physical comedy. Ducommun's funny, too, at least in the kind of way where you figure he's some Saturday Night Live alumnus whom you've never heard of. But in a good way.

The movie has a little trouble finding a consistent tone. When things are subtle and let the eccentricities and weirdness act on their own, the movie works. When things get a little louder, this seems to lose its focus. The best example is when two of the characters find a femur. Now, this entire scene could be some sort of parody or something on Joe Dante's part, but watching this in 2015, the prolonged screaming and quickly-zooming-in-and-out camerawork just made me roll my eyes.

The 'Burbs isn't a terrible comedy, but there was a lot more that could have been done with the idea. And probably a lot less that should have been done with the idea.

I might have a crush on 1980's Carrie Fisher, by the way. Is that just natural for somebody my age? That's probably a cliche, isn't it? I think I might be having a midlife crisis.