The 'Burbs ★★★

Joe Dante's "The 'Burbs" takes a little too much time to get heated up. The film, a comedic look at neighbors' suspicions about a home on their block, ends with a bang but runs the risk of losing its audience as meanders toward its climax. Still, Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, and Carrie Fisher ground the film's early, wandering goofiness, keeping things watchable in its dubious beginning stages.

Starring Hanks as a homeowner who just wants to enjoy some vacation-based laziness, the film revolves around a group of neighbors who become wary of a home in their neighborhood. The rundown property could be home to all manner of depraved activity, and the neighbors decide an investigation is in order. The story blends mystery with a little too much wackiness, and, early on, the film's tone is problematic. Too upbeat to be an obvious dark comedy, things eventually settle into a comfortable narrative mishmash of tones and story elements.

Dante takes his time to establish the film's signature energy, but eventually finds a solid ground between the mystery, comedy, and potential danger of the plot. The film is straightforward visually, and its cast is definitely the film's strong suit.

It takes a rocky path, but "The 'Burbs" eventually becomes enjoyable. Though the film would be better served embracing one genre or tone and not trying to combine multiple, it ends up as something engaging. It just takes a while to get there.

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