Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Burbs is the greatest movie of all time

The Burbs. One of my favorite movies from this era. Remember seeing it right when it came out on video and then watching the shit out of it on HBO. At some point, my bro and I caught it and got it on VHS and from it was on like Simon Le Bon. It is light. Funny. Occasionally dark. Has a killer cast with Tom Hanks, Carrie Fisher, the dude who plays Art, Mr. Rumsfield, and Corey Feldman. This is the greatest movie of all time.

Pros: Comedy/horror. My favorite genre. Both work. Cast is like insanely 80s great. Some pretty great one liners. Love some of that zany camera work. I wished my neighborhood was like this when I was a child because I was insane.

Cons: Not the best message really. Art gets harder to stomach as time goes by. Ditto for Rumsfield who partly suffers that unfortunate name.

This is what happens when you are bored in suburbia and your neighbors are Nazis. The gist of the film is bored suburbanites, led by Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks), come to believe their newly installed eccentric neighbors, the Klopeks, are members of a homicidal Satanic cult that killed the old man Walter (Gale Gordon) who has gone missing at the end of the cul-de-sac. While the wives, played by Carrie Fisher and Wendy Schaal (who is probably most famous for voicing Francine in American Dad), believe nothing is out of the ordinary, dudes Art (Rick Ducommun), Peterson, Mr. Rumsfield (Bruce Dern), and the neighbor kids, led by Ricky Butler (Corey Feldman), all think the Klopeks are are members of an evil satanic cult. All this equals shenanigans of a hilarious and creepy nature.

Some shit I really liked in this movie was the zany camerawork. I don't usually like stuff like that but in this movie it totally fits the tone and works. The instances that I am thinking of are when the camera focuses in on everyone's faces as they watch Ray go up to ring the door bell on the Klopeks's house and the zoom in and out scene with Art and Ray screaming. In the face scene, it is pretty tense and everyone stares ahead very seriously and then we get a shot of Walter's dog intensely looking ahead. It was pretty great. The other one is after Art and Ray find the femur in the back yard and Art explains to Ray what that bone is and such, ending it with "this is Walter!" and they both scream as the camera keeps sort of bouncing in and out as they completely freak out. Eventually the moment passes though and Art calms down. Ray though is still scream so Art taps him like, "come on man", and he straightens up.

Also, this film, as with Goonies before it, has just the right amount of Corey Feldman, in this flick as stoner/teenager painting his parents' house Ricky Butler. Spoiler, Ricky never paints that fucking house. He comes in, usually on the periphery but once or twice carries the scene, yucks it up, says some surfer shit, and he is out. Joe Dante, who did the same shit with Feldman in Gremlins, seems to have perfected the art of Feldman usage. Good shit.

Klopek. Sessions. Same damn person
Easily my favorite scene of the movie is when the Rumsfields and the Petersons go over to the Klopek household for an insane and awkward neighborly meeting at the behest of the wives. Ray, for the most part, plays it cool like he is unsure what the Klopeks are up to. Mr. Rumsfield, however, is all in on them being murderous psychos and pulls no punches, making pointed, confrontational small-talk with the occasional accusation just thrown out there. Whenever this happens, Ray acts like a freak in order to keep things semi sane. One of the best ones is when Rumsfield asks if Klopek is Slavic in a way that implies that he definitely thinks there is something wrong with being Slavic and the one played by Brother Theodore, Rueben, who is so angry throughout his entire time on screen, barks back "NO!" to which Rumsfield is like "about a nine on the tension scale there, Rueb." He asks a bunch questions about why they move around so much, what happened to the people that used to live there, and all this shit which come to think of it, why the Klopeks are murdering all these people is never really addressed but I'm pretty sure they are probably Nazis. Part of my reasoning is Rueb's insane reaction to the Slavic question. Then Dr. Klopek, who I think grew up to be Jeff Sessions, is totally Mengele-esque with his weird paintings and trunk of bones and all that. But I think they are more or less just Nazi caricatures than anything. Just some homicidal weirdos that are vaguely Nazi(ish). Speaking of, the one Hans, played by infamous ginger Courtney Gains, the Pinocchio Klopek, has the most disgusting neck beard in all of film. You might remember him in the slightly less disturbing roll of Malachai in Children of the Corn.

Rueb. Total sweetheart

The ending, spoiler, sends some mixed signals. What happens is Tom Hanks blows up the Klopeks' house looking for the rest of their neighbor Walter whom they are sure they have burned and buried in the basement. They appear to be totally wrong as the Klopeks have brought the police to the scene and act completely innocent. At first, when that that shit is going down, you side with the Klopeks as Tom Hanks does he thing, explaining that they are the crazy ones for being paranoid and burning their neighbor's house down. But then their trunk pops open and Corey Feldman looks underneath this blanket and we see underneath it their trunk full of skeletal remains. From there it is all, nope, just kidding, they are totally justified in their insane behavior because the Klopeks were fucking crazy after all. But I still like it and it was definitely better than the alternative. In the original script, Ray gets killed in the ambulance and the Klopeks go free which is obviously a huge bummer of a scene. There is another alternate ending that isn't terrible. If you want, you can check it out below...

Anyway, Tom Hanks is the obvious MVP of the movie. I feel this is sort of the movie where he went from goofball kid to America's dad. He is totes still goofy AF, but with this flick progresses from the hilarious, lovable frat bro/manchild from Bachelor Party and like everything else he did prior to the 1990s, and is everyone's surrogate dad for the next 20 years or so. He is stressed out and out of control and is god damned perfect which we later just take for granted with good old reliable Hanks. Total MVP performance right here. Feldman and Dern were also solid. Fucking greatness, this flick.

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