The 'burbs

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When Ray Peterson (Hanks) opts to take his vacation at home in Hinckley Hills - the epitome of suburban conformism - he soon becomes infected by his neighbours' paranoia over the Klopeks, new arrivals to the scuzziest house in the street. Okay, they're ugly, they keep a dog called Landru, dig up the garden by night, and have a noisy basement; but are they really 'neighbours from hell'? After all, Ray's pals are pretty weird: Mark (Dern) is a rabid militarist, Art (Ducommun) is obsessed with macabre murders, and Ricky (Feldman) is a thrill-crazy Heavy Metal freak. Joe Dante's manic black satire portrays the investigations of this quartet of eternal adolescents into the Klopeks' admittedly unusual lifestyle with enormous glee, revelling in OTT behaviour and absurd dialogue, and tossing out film parodies with reckless abandon. Characteristically, Dante's nonchalant attitude towards plot structure makes for erratic pacing (the last half hour does flag), but that's part and parcel of his breathless, anarchic style. It's very silly, of course, but Hanks' fine timing is matched by a strong supporting cast, and thanks to Dante's wicked, comic-strip view of the world, the movie achieves an admirably wacky consistency as it debunks American mores and movie clich├ęs, from Hitchcock and Leone to Michael Winner and Tobe Hooper.

Release details

Duration: 102 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Joe Dante
Screenwriter: Dana Olsen
Cast: Tom Hanks
Bruce Dern
Carrie Fisher
Rick Ducommun
Corey Feldman
Wendy Schaal
Courtney Gains
Gale Gordon
Dick Miller
Robert Picardo
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