Thursday, August 26, 2010

#65 - The Burbs - 1989

The 2nd movie I chose to watch this week was the 1989 film The Burbs. I remember seeing this one when I was younger and it being one of my favorite movies at the time. To this day it is still one of my favorites and although not one of Tom Hanks biggest motion pictures ever easily one of my favorites for him. I originally thought this one was from the 90's but it seems as though it barely stayed in the 80's decade so I was happy to have this one for this week. Below is my detailed review.

The Burbs had a wonderful cast and a perfectly quiet small town cul-de-sac as its setting. The cast consisted of Tom Hanks in the main role of Ray Peterson. His wife Carol is played by Princess Lei Carrie Fischer herself. His neighbors are Lt. Mark Rumsield (Bruce Dern), Art Weingartner (Rick Ducomumm), Ricky Butler (Corey Feldman), and Walter Seznick (Gale Gordon) along with new arrivals to the Mayfield Place the Klopeks. The Klopeks consist of 80's staple actor Courtney Gains as Hans, Brother Theodore as Uncle Ruben, and most notably Henry Gibson as Dr. Werner Klopek.

The story of this film is Ray Peterson is taking a week's vacation and wants to stay home and veg for the week but his new next door neighbors are quite intriguing individuals to him with their unkept lawn, elusive behavior, and strange noise and lights coming from their basement. He cant help but wonder what is going on over there so when you add the street Lieutenant (Dern) and street whacko (Ducommun) to the picture you get the makings of a very funny film. Against the will of the women in their life they compose a game plan to investigate this families house when they leave for a day trip and what takes place is pure catastrophe in all shapes and forms.

I spoke briefly about the set of this film above but let me divulge more on that here. This film was shot on the back lot of Universal Studios where they originally filmed Leave it to Beaver and what is now Wisteria Lane on Desperate Housewives. If you notice at the beginning of the film the name of the street is Mayfield Place and that is the same street name that the Clever's live on in Leave it to Beaver. I remember going to Universal Studios shortly after the release of this film and getting to set this set, it was very cool. I loved how different and dirty the Klopek's house was compared to all the others. I know its Wisteria Lane on the tour now but I will always remember it as Mayfield Place and home to the Burbs movie.

One thing that amazed me with this film is that the entire movie, all 102 minutes take place on the cul-de-sac there on Mayfield Place. That is incredibly unique for a film to basically take place all in one specific area, in this case neighborhood for the entire length of the film. Very rare but yet it worked for this movie. The atmosphere of this neighborhood and the Klopek's house alone made for a very cool setting for this film. The night scenes were my favorite especially when the rain and thunderstorm was present. The interior scenes inside Ray and Walts house were pretty basic however the interior scenes inside the Klopek's was very cool and creepy. The scene where Ray has to use their restroom and walks down the hall in the Klopeks with the front door behind him and staircase to the right of him actually looked eerily similar to the interior section of the Psycho House and the scene where Norman entered the house before chasing down Lila. I wonder if that was intentional and more so I wonder if they used the same set? It was filmed just a tram ride away at Universal?

I liked all the characters in this film but by far my favorite was Lt. Mark Rumsfield played by Bruce Dern. He was so damn funny to me in this film with his military attire, hatred for Walter's dog, and his animal crackers. haha. All of the scenes he was in were funny. I especially loved his scene inside the Klopeks with the way he was with them questioning everything, checking out the pipes, etc. My favorite though was when he was intently trying to figure out what angle a painting should be placed at. Too funny. He was easily the most entertaining one in this film in my mind.

There were numerous scenes that I really enjoyed and the following are some of my favorites! I thought when Ray and Art went up to the Klopek's door for the first time and the bee's sprung out and chased them through the street was pretty funny. I also enjoyed the scene where Lt. Rumsfield and Art rummeged through the trash truck looking for evidence from the Klopeks trash. Lt Rumsfields shaving cream and camouflage boxers added humor to this scene in my mind. This goes back to Lt. Rumsfield but when Rumsfield, I'm going to call him Rummy from now on, when he and his wife and Ray and his wife go to meet the Klopeks there are plenty of funny scenes all mostly thanks to Rummy. I like when he says "Hans, Hans Christian Anderson" and then when Ruben answers him abruptly and he responds, "about a 9 on the tension scale Rub".

There were also some more dark scenes that made it more mysterious and horror like which I loved even though this was clearly a comedy. The organ music playing when showing the Klopek's house, the thunderstorm and rain, and the digging in the backyard of the Klopeks were all pretty cool scenes that I enjoyed. It gave the movie a more spooky campy feel to me and I liked that. Don't get me wrong none of these scenes were scary per say but it added an element that I liked to the film that is usually missing from these type of flicks. The film progressed to where the three guys, Rummy, Ray, and Art with the observance of the neighborhood dude, Ricky plan to go all out and investigate the Klopeks house all Hardy Boy style. Ray ended up doing most of the work including the digging in the basement and almost got blown to smithereens for it but he ended up living. The final scenes of the film show Dr. Klopek with Ray in the ambulance actually admitting to killing the former neighbors, the Knapps and then Rummy chasing down Hans whom he calls out "Pinocchio" due to his similar resemblance of Pinocchio's buddy in the Disney classic. All in all this movie was entertaining to me from start to finish and I love the fact that the entire movie was shot on that back lot at Universal. Add in Rummy and the other cast of characters along with the spooky Klopek house and this one was a winner in all categories for me. I would easily give this one an A!

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