Much ado about nothing

The 'burbs is a small study of paranoia in the confines of a cul-de-sac. It stars Tom Hanks, Carrie Fisher, and Bruce Dern. This one certainly wasn't a boon to any of their careers.

The premise is that the new neighbors are almost never seen, their house and yard are run down, and people start suspecting all sorts of thing. The men folk begin to gossip and spy on them, fueling a kind of slapstick mob mentality, pushing them further and further over the edge.

The thinly veiled social commentary goes beyond neighborhood pettiness. The escalating conflict and territorial behavior reflects certain truths, not just of suburbia. Unfortunately, the humor, as inane as it is, often undercuts the idea - particularly with the ending. The final revelation is a reasonable twist, plotwise, yet sacrifices so much in terms of meaning that the film no longer adds up to anything.

The 'burbs aren't bad for background viewing, but there's no particular reason to go search it out.

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