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The 'Burbs Reviews

An uneven effort from GREMLINS director Joe Dante, this black comedy is often hilarious, but is betrayed by an ending forced on Dante by the film's producers. Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks) is a family man taking a week's vacation at home in the suburbs. Ray's week off is disrupted, however, when his chubby neighbor, Art Weingartner (Rick Ducommun), begins to suspect that the new family in the neighborhood, a weird bunch of Eastern Europeans named the Klopeks, may be satanists conducting grisly rites in their new home. Sucked into Art's obsession, Ray and gung-ho Vietnam vet Mark Rumsfield (Bruce Dern) join him in spying on the Klopeks. They pay a visit to the Klopek house and their distrust further fueled by the strange behavior of Dr. Werner Klopek (Henry Gibson) and Uncle Rueben (Brother Theodore). They become obsessed with the new kids on the block, an obsession that leads them on a path of steadily escalating destruction. convinced that the Klopeks, THE 'BURBS offers a delightfully complicated portrait of suburban voyeurism, a portrait taken to its absurd extreme by Dante's introduction of "foreign" elements among his xenophobic characters, in a devastating satire of suburban values. Once the neighbors actually confront the dreaded Klopeks, however, THE 'BURBS jettisons narrative complexity in favor of mundane thrills, and the film's feel-good twist ending subverts what had been an impassioned plea for tolerance. Dante's gleeful cinematic technique is abundantly in evidence, however, and there are some inspired comic turns from the excellent ensemble cast. Hanks is wonderful as the poor schlub who at first just wants to relax and enjoy his week off, but is sucked in by his neighbors' paranoia, while Dern steals the film as the macho and quite unbalanced patriot. Brother Theodore and the under-rated Gibson are also very well cast as the strange foreigners.