A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The 'Burbs is a slapstick comedy with some light horror but no real gore. It's about men who suspect that their neighbors are serial killers. Blood's seen once on clothing and is smeared during a handshake; many skeletons are shown in the trunk of a car. Strong language is not frequent, but one character says "goddamn" half a dozen times, and there are curse words such as "p---y-whipped" and "s--t." A teen staying home alone has a party and drinks beer. Adults drink beer and smoke cigars.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks) and neighbor buddies Art and Rumsfield (Bruce Dern) suspect that the creepy new family on the cul de sac are serial killers, but their attempts to find evidence by spying on the neighbors come up empty. When the neighbors have to go away for a day, the three friends invade the house, determined to find proof of foul play once and for all.
Is it any good?
With such a strong cast and veteran director (Joe Dante), THE 'BURBS should have been a better movie. The weak link here is the writing. About the best that can be said is that it clips along at a good pace. Sure, there are a few laughs here and there, but the slapstick is too predictable to offer anything genuine. The situation is hackneyed. The events are not credible, and the script doesn't really help suspend your disbelief enough to go along with the goofiness.
Teens likely will enjoy some laughs despite the familiarity of the slapstick tropes. They may also enjoy the outlandish '80s teen fashions. (We really did used to dress that way, kids.) But with so many better choices available from just about everyone involved in this film, your time would be better spent elsewhere.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about movies that combine comedy with scares. Why do we enjoy them so much?
Have you ever suspected that someone was up to no good? What did you do? Were you right?
Have you seen any other moves starring Tom Hanks? How does this one compare? Which is your favorite?
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love to laugh
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch