Tom Hanks’s Weirdest Movie Started Streaming On Netflix

Tom Hanks's most bizarre movie, The 'Burbs, is now on Netflix.

By Jennifer Asencio | Updated

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Before he ran, Forrest, ran, coached that there was no crying in baseball, or saved Private Ryan, Tom Hanks was a comedy actor who cut his teeth making television shows like Bosom Buddies and movies like Splash and Big. Audiences can watch him in another of his early films, the ensemble horror spoof The ‘Burbs, which is now on Netflix. The movie also stars Carrie Fisher, Bruce Dern, Rick Ducommun, and Corey Feldman, and was directed by Joe Dante of Gremlins fame.

The ‘Burbs is about a quiet suburban street whose tranquility is disrupted when spooky new neighbors move into the house next door to Tom Hanks’s character, Ray Peterson. Ray’s motley ensemble of neighbors includes Vietnam vet Mark, wacky and fanciful Art, teen rock-n-roller Ricky, and elderly dog-owner Walter, as well as Ray’s family, which includes Ray’s wife, the level-headed Carol, played by Carrie Fisher. The Klopeks move into the house next door to Ray, and the neighbors witness strange events at the home which convince them that the new family is composed of cultist ritual murderers.

The three men’s suspicions continue to build when Walter disappears, leaving only his dog and his toupee behind. While Carol and Mark’s sun-bunny wife Bonnie try to keep a level head, Ray, Art, and Mark snoop around the Klopek’s house and yard in their attempts to prove that their new neighbors are actually serial killers. This leads to a series of misadventures that have explosive consequences for Tom Hanks’s character and his neighbors.

tom hanks

Ray Peterson is a bored everyman who is tired of the routine of day-to-day living and looking for excitement in his life, and Tom Hanks was very enthusiastic when he was offered the role. The movie was filmed over 10 weeks on the Colonial Street set of Universal Studios, helmed by horror-comedy veteran Joe Dante. Both director and star praised one another and spoke highly of what it was like to work together.

Despite middling reviews from critics such as Roger Ebert and Vincent Canby, the movie premiered at number one on its opening weekend, which was in February 1989. Critics claimed the movie had a lot of potential given its prestigious cast and director as well as an intriguing premise, but that it failed to blend these elements effectively. Nevertheless, the early Tom Hanks film built up enough of a following that a disappointing Blu-Ray version released in the United States in 2016 prompted another, better version to be made in 2018.

Regardless of the critics’ opinions, the ensemble cast works really well together, as the three bumbling men feed one another’s fears and the two wives try to keep everyone from doing anything outrageous. Even Tom Hanks acknowledged that many suburban neighborhoods hide secrets almost as horrible as the ones suspected of the Klopeks, as well as the bored weekend warriors determined to police their neighborhoods of loud noises, wandering canines, and creepy new neighbors. The charm of The ‘Burbs is that many of us know this neighborhood and its inhabitants because we, too, grew up there.

It is also a fun family film, spooky enough for those who like a scare but mild enough for the little ones to get in on the fun. Catch Tom Hanks in The ‘Burbs on Netflix today.