Quick, what's the best Tom Hanks comedy of the 80's? That's right. It's "The Burbs." Bar none.
Sure, you might be tempted to pick one of Tom Hanks' other string of comedy movies: “ Splash, “ ”Bachelor Party,” ”The Man With One Red Shoe,” “Volunteers,” “The Money Pit,” “Dragnet,” “Big,” “Turner & Hooch,” and “Joe Versus the Volcano," but out of all of those Tom Hanks comedies, it is "The Burbs" that remains as the "send off" movie of the comedy iteration of Tom Hanks' career. After Burbs, Hanks would segue more into romantic comedy, and then finally into drama, and then become the Oscar-winning Tom Hanks we all know today. Hanks would only return to (dark) comedy fifteen years later as the lead in the Coen Bros. remake of "The Ladykillers." Even though Burbs was released in no mans land in (February 1989) and barely made its money back, it has enjoyed a huge cult following over the past twenty-plus years. This is due in part of HBO playing it constantly back in the 90's, and its success on home video on VHS, and then dvd. But WHY has Burbs attained a cult following all these years?
Firstly, it's a very accessible movie. From the very start of the movie, the audience can immediately figure out the jist of the plot. Ray Peterson (Hanks) has some very strange new neighbors that nobody on the block can figure out what they are up to. Just about everyone has had that one (or more) wacky neighbors on their street that was up to only God knows what. So the audience immediately emphasizes with Ray. But even then, Ray is just curious. It is only because of the prodding of his other nosy neighbors, Art, (Rick Ducommun) and Mark Rumsfield (Bruce Dern), that Ray decides to snoop on the reclusive new neighbors, The Klopeks. But it's the little things in "The Burbs" like the "Zoom in on Poodle" shot that fans love.
"Ray, you're chanting!"
Athough the Klopeks don't have much dialogue, the few lines they do like, "It came with the frame," and even a simple "No." are hilarious.
“The Burbs” is one of those rare movies that is a cult movie, but also has crossed over into broad awareness by the general public. Originally a very modest success, bringing in $49 million worldwide on an $18 million dollar budget, “The Burbs,” much like Universal’s other big cult hit, “Army of Darkness,” made its money via the burgeoning (VHS/Laserdisc) home market of the early 1990s. “The Burbs” also enjoyed near endless play on pay television and satellite during the 90’s and beyond.
“The Burbs” has picked up a cult following over the past twenty plus years since its release, and you will find a great swath of people that enjoy the movie from all walks of life, not just the usual fringe elements. Still, Universal Pictures has never released “The Burbs” with any special features aside from one of the alternate endings, and only in 2014 will the Blu-Ray finally be released via a British film company called Arrow Video who has licensed the film from Universal.
Screenwriter specializing in comedy and thriller genres. REAPER MADNESS, a feature screenplay I co-wrote, is slated for production in 2013. My day job is lawyerin' here in fly over country. Or as those of us who live here call it, "Fly Over Country."
I'm also a musician (guitar) interested in everything from garage punk to Americana and other roots music.