One of the most accomplished actors in cinematic history, Tom Hanks has starred in innumerable hits and been nominated for countless awards, including back-to-back Best Actor nods for turns in Philadelphia (1993) and Forrest Gump (1994). We’re not here to talk about hardware or films that broke the box office, however.
For Hanks’ 61st birthday, we willfully look beyond Apollo 13 (1995), Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Cast Away (2000), and instead choose to celebrate pre-Oscars Hanks. We’re talking the days of Bachelor Party (1984), The Money Pit (1986), Dragnet (1987), Turner & Hooch (1989), and another little flick from ’89 titled, The ‘Burbs.
Joe Dante’s cult classic featured memorable (and highly quotable) performances from Rick Ducommun, Bruce Dern, Corey Feldman and the late, great Carrie Fisher; but today it’s all about the birthday boy. So let’s have a stroll with Ray Peterson, the head of the neighborhood watch, shall we?
The best of Tom Hanks from The ‘Burbs.
8. I’M USELESS TILL I’VE HAD MY MORNING COFFEE
Forgive the quality of the clip, but no ‘Burbs list would be complete without this gem. FACT: I laugh just as hard now as I did the first the time I saw it. There really are no words to capably describe Hanks’ glorious reaction to being pelted with a newspaper.
7. I’M NOT GOING TO LISTEN TO THIS, I’M NOT GOING TO HEAR THIS NOW
It goes without saying that Hanks played the straight man throughout, but muttering as he ignored Art (Ducommun) played right into Ricky’s (Feldman) description. Ray was the skeptic who was grounded in reality and simply didn’t want to accept that his neighbors were up to something strange. At least, that’s one of the theories, yeah.
6. I’VE…I’VE NEVER SEEN THAT
The ‘Burbs may not be horror, but at the very least it’s a dark comedy, and the only way for that to truly work is for the film to contain creepy elements. For a movie filled with spectacular moments, this may be its most scintillating. The music, Pinocchio (Courtney Gains) hauling a garbage bag / dead body to the trash and the reactions of Ducommun and Dern captured the moment perfectly — what had just been suspicion and a fun way for a bunch of bored people to pass the time could actually be happening. Hanks’ deadpan comments immediately after, however, stole the scene.
5. THIS IS WALTER!
Presented without comment.
So I couldn’t find a clip that included the sneezing fit, but damned if Hanks didn’t take one for the team with the best of ’em.
3. PEOPLE WHO MOW THEIR LAWNS 4,800 TIMES AND THEN SNAP!
This meltdown is epic. Hanks not only managed to be hilarious, but offered a glimpse of the dramatic skill that would garner awards down the line. The key moment, however, was not Hanks charging after Ducommun or even Art champing down on his splinted finger, but rather after Hanks declared that he’d been blown up and needed to go to the hospital. The sound he made when he realized that no one was going to place the gurney in the ambulance kills me. Every time.
2. I THINK I FORGOT MY WALLET
Once more, humor and horror mingled to fantastic effect. Dr. Klopek (Henry Gibson) is legitimately unsettling here, but Hanks’ progression from funny to frightened to fending for his life is pure gold.
1. KEEP AN EYE ON THE NEIGHBORHOOD FOR ME
Alright, “Hey, Pinocchio?!” and Art’s “don’t-mess-with-suburbanites” rant can’t be topped, but this was the perfect way to wrap a perfect film. Though populated with doofuses, Ray was the coolest cat on the block, and temporarily handed the baton to Ricky for the big finish.
Heartbroken is a strong word, but that’s kind of the way I felt when I couldn’t find a clip of Hanks scolding Ducommun for lifting an item from Walter’s abode. “You wanna take that out of your pocket? Do you wanna not steal that from Walter’s house, please?” I use this while shopping with people to this day.
So, that’s the list. What are your favorite Hanks moments from The ‘Burbs? Share in the comments sections below.