The Burbs (DVD, 1999, Widescreen) Reviews
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The Burbs (DVD, 1999, Widescreen)

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Tom Hanks Deals With Strange Neighbors in The 'Burbs

Jul 8, 2007 (Updated Aug 8, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Funny, entertaining movie. Good cast.

Cons:Could be too dark for some viewers.

The Bottom Line: The 'Burbs is a very underrated, entertaining movie that is worth watching.


Everyone has probably had at least one neighbor that they didn't like or thought was strange. People pick different ways to deal with those types of neighbors. Tom Hanks had to deal with that situation in his movie The 'Burbs.

Ray Peterson lived in a quiet suburban neighborhood with his wife Carol and son Dave on Mayfield Place. Everyone on the street knew everyone else until the Klopek family moved in right next door to Ray. After a month, no one had talked to them or even seen them outside of the house. Crows had never been around before, but they started to hang around the Klopek’s yard. Late at night very loud, strange noises were heard from the house.

On the first day of his vacation, Ray was amused watching Walter let his dog Queenie do her business on Mark and Bonnie Rumsfield’s lawn. Mark, a former military man, and Art were very suspicious of the Klopeks and developed some wild theories about them. Art and Mark managed to pull Ray into their plotting to find out more about the Klopeks. Ricky Butler, a teenager, was supposed to be painting his house but he spent a lot of time watching what was going on. The three men became more paranoid and obsessed, especially after Walter disappeared. They remained suspicious even after they finally met Hans, Uncle Reuben, and Dr. Werner Klopek.

The ‘Burbs was a black comedy that incorporated elements from scary and suspenseful movies. Black comedies can be difficult to do well without adding in the other aspects like this movie did. I thought the movie blended the different things together very well in a way that fit the movie. This was one of the better black comedies that I’ve seen. I thought it was very funny and it made me laugh repeatedly. The way that Mark reacted once he realized that Queenie had left a little present on his lawn was very funny. I also thought the way that Mark still acted like he was in the military added a lot of humor. Ray and Art also said and did several things that made me laugh.

The Klopeks were a mystery. They had lived there for a month but hadn’t bothered to introduce themselves to anyone. They weren’t even seen outside and the house itself didn’t look inviting for the others to stop by to welcome them to the neighborhood. The strange noises and even lights that came from the house at night raised all sorts of questions for everyone on the street. That did add a little bit of mystery and suspense to the movie that helped to keep things interesting. Certain scary movie elements were also included in the movie. The score featured several pieces of creepy sounding music that fit perfectly with what was going on. I didn’t think that the movie was scary though it could be for younger children.

Most people have had to deal with somewhat strange neighbors, so that aspect of the plot was believable. I wasn’t bothered when the movie did go off in a strange way because it was very entertaining. That made the movie more unique. I liked the twist that was given to a normal problem that many people have had to deal with. Unfortunately this movie didn’t do that well when it was released in theaters which is a shame because it is so good. Since then, more people have discovered the movie and it has developed a bit of a cult following. It really is worth watching, especially for people who appreciate and enjoy movies that are a bit different.

Mayfield Place, the fictional street where the movie was set, is actually a street referred to as Colonial Street on the backlot of Universal Studios. Many of the houses are just facades and have been used in many movies and television shows over the years. The house used for Leave it to Beaver house was on that street. Ricky’s house was Herman and Lily Munster’s house in The Munsters. Walter’s house was built for this movie and is still on the street. The street is currently being used as Wisteria Lane for Desperate Housewives. Ricky’s house became the Applewhite house and the Klopek house became Bree’s home. I thought it was interesting to find out these things about where the movie was filmed - at least for the exteriors of the houses. Now that I know the street is also Wisteria Lane, I can see some similarities.

Ray just wanted to have a quiet vacation at home. Instead he ended up having a very stress filled week. He was concerned about what the Klopeks were doing, but he didn’t want to get involved at first. He didn’t believe the ideas that Art and Mark had at first. As he noticed more strange things going on, Ray started to believe. Tom Hanks was really good in the part. Carol had wanted the family to go to the lake for Ray’s vacation and she did continue to bring that up. She was a loving wife that did nag just a little a few times because she was worried about Ray. It was never mentioned that she worked outside of the home, so I’m guessing she didn’t. Carrie Fisher was good in the part. She and Hanks were believable as a married couple. Cody Danziger was only around in a few scenes as their son Dave.

Mark had been in the military and still acted like he was much of the time. He used his military training to his advantage when he Art, and Ray started spying on the Klopeks. Mark was nice enough even though he did get carried away at times. I really liked Bruce Dern in the part. He just fit Mark. Bonnie was Mark’s attractive wife. She tended to wear skimpy outfits and the other men in the neighborhood enjoyed the view. Wendy Schaal was fine in the part. Walter lived alone with his dog Queenie. Gale Gordon didn’t get much to do since Walter really didn’t have many scenes.

It seemed like Art and Ray got along well when the movie started. Art did invite himself in for meals at times. He seemed to enjoy instigating things and getting Ray worked up. Rick Ducommun handled the part fine. Ricky was supposed to be painting his house but he did very little actual painting. Instead, he spent most of his time sitting on the porch watching what Art, Mark, and Ray were up to. Ricky even brought his date to the porch instead of taking her somewhere else. Cory Feldman fit the part well.

None of the members of the Klopek family were seen very much which did help to make them more mysterious. Hans was the only one that was even seen outside of the house. He and his Uncle Reuben seemed a bit odd and weren’t overly friendly when the neighbors finally did decide to try to get to know them. Reuben was downright hostile. Werner, a doctor, was friendlier when he finally showed up. Courtney Gains, Henry Gibson, and Brother Theodore were all fine in the parts.

Main Cast

Cory Danziger - Dave Peterson
Bruce Dern - Mark Rumsfield
Rick Ducommun - Art
Cory Feldman - Ricky Butler
Carrie Fisher - Carol Peterson
Courtney Gaines - Hans Klopek
Henry Gibson - Dr. Werner Klopek
Gale Gordon - Walter
Tom Hanks - Ray Peterson
Wendy Schaal - Bonnie Rumsfield
Brother Theodore - Uncle Reuben Klopek

Joe Dante - Director

DVD Information

The ‘Burbs is available on DVD. I recently picked up the copy I own. It has the widescreen version of the movie and almost no extras. The theatrical trailer and an alternate ending were it. The alternate ending was only slightly different from the one that ended up in the theatrical version.

The ‘Burbs was a bit different, but it was still very entertaining and enjoyable. It is worth watching, especially for fans of the cast.

This review is part of elvisdo’s 2007 Canadiania Write-off. Rick Ducommun is from Saskatchewan Canada.

Tom Hanks Movie Reviews
The Da Vinci Code ~ The Polar Express ~ The Terminal ~ Toy Story ~ Toy Story 2 ~


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