Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Burbs * * *

The yard is unmowed, the windows shuttered, garbage stacked on the porch, and you never ever see them go in or out. Yes, it's the weird, slightly creepy, neighbors. Every neighborhood has a set. Anyone with an over-active imagination has wondered what they are up to. Hmm, maybe they are running a drug house. Then again maybe, just maybe, they are serial killers burying their victims in the backyard. This is a ludicrous and absolutely hilarious movie about what happens when a few neighbors get a little too suspicious of the odd folks living next door and let their over-active imaginations get the better of them.

The five main actors do a great job with their characters. Most of the time, they all play their characters straight, and you will laugh because you have probably met people a little like them. Maybe even you will recognize some of them as your neighbors. There is the Vietnam vet who has all the 'toys' and gets a little trigger-happy when his neighbor's dog soils his lawn. There is the fellow who really believes that his neighbors are part of a demonic cult. There is the buddy-buddy neighbor that comes to visit unannounced at breakfast and helps himself to everything including the leftovers from the night before. There is the dottering old fellow -- who lets his poodle 'fertilize' everyone's lawn. There is the straight guy (Hanks) who thinks his neighbors are weird, but would rather just not think about them.

I picked this up fully expecting another dud that I would have to peruse with judicious use of the fast-forward button. I was very wrong! Despite being stupid, really quite stupid with an inane plot, I nonetheless found myself laughing until my stomach hurt in many places. This is slapstick humor a little in the Coen brothers tradition, but without the vulgarity. So if you don't like that kind of humor, for example you didn't laugh during say 'Something About Mary' then you ought to stay clear of this. But if you do, this would be a fun movie to rent with friends for a night of light and meaningless comedy.

Available on Netflix and your local video store.