review for The 'Burbs on AllMovie

The 'Burbs (1989)
by Jason Buchanan review

A purposefully hyper-exaggerated satire of suburban paranoia, Joe Dante's hit-and-miss comedy is often more miss than hit, though it's not without a fair amount of over-the-top charm and some good performances from Bruce Dern and Tom Hanks. Though younger audiences raised on his later efforts may forget that Hanks was a remarkable comedic actor early in his career, Dante utilizes the former Bosom Buddy's seemingly forgotten gift for zany neurosis to full effect here. With long stretches of mediocrity infrequently giving way to inspired, paranoid humor, the mysterious neighbors (played to full effect by Henry Gibson, Brother Theodore, and Courtney Gains) possess a formidable quirkiness straddling the line between eccentricity and outright menace. Suburban satire is no stranger to director Dante, though such previous efforts as Gremlins (1984) find the director on slightly firmer ground in terms of consistency. One-note performances by Carrie Fisher and Corey Feldman weigh the film down considerably despite providing the respective restraint and social cynicism their characters represent.