Both an entertaining comedy and a sharp satire of American xenophobia, Joe Dante's The 'Burbs is one of the best examples of how the director's films can nimbly slip between a variety of different genres and tones.
The film starts off deceptively like a standard issue Tom Hanks comedy of the 1980s. But it soon heads off into more unexpected black comedy territory, as Ray, Hanks' suburbanite character, becomes obsessed with peculiar neighbors who move into the dilapidated house next door. When the block's grouch disappears, Ray and a group of other crackpot neighbors begin to concoct increasingly wild theories about the goings-on at the creepy, old house next door. Almost as soon as it was released, Joe Dante's The 'Burbs developed a cult following that remains to this day. Also with Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher, Corey Feldman, Henry Gibson, and Brother Theodore. (102 mins., 35mm)