Director Joe Dante funnels his decidedly cracked view of suburban life through dark humour in The ‘Burbs. The action never strays beyond the cozy confines of the nightmarish block everyman Ray (Tom Hanks) inhabits along with an uproarious assemblage of wacky neighbors.
Poor Ray has a week off and just wants to spend it quietly at home with his wife Carol (Carrie Fisher). Instead, he’s drawn into an increasingly elaborate sleuthing game involving the mysterious Klopeks, who reside in a ‘Munsters’-esque house rife with indications of foul play.
Ray’s more familiar neighbors are equally bizarre: the corpulent Art (Rick Ducommun), convinced the Klopeks are performing satanic sacrifices; Rumsfield (Bruce Dern), a shell-shocked ex-GI; Walter (Gale Gordon), who delights in letting his dog relieve himself on Rumsfield’s lawn; and Ricky (Corey Feldman) a teenager who sees all the strange goings-on as viewing fodder for parties with his friends.
Hanks does a fine impersonation of a regular guy on the verge of a nervous breakdown, while Dern adds another memorable psychotic to his resume. The big breakthroughs, however, are Ducommun, superb in a role that would have well-suited John Candy; and Wendy Schaal as Dern’s airhead wife.