Column: Me, my brother and The ‘Burbs


Salma Ali

For me that movie is the 1989 cult classic, “The ‘Burbs”. Now, this movie may not be a comedic masterpiece, but I love this movie with every fiber of my being.

I love that a movie, no matter how “low brow” or strange it is, can connect people. It can remind them of a specific time in their life, an experience or a memory. Most people have a movie they’ve seen a thousand times, but never gets old. It has attached itself so deeply into a person that it’s a true “comfort movie.

For me that movie is the 1989 cult classic, “The ‘Burbs”. Now, this movie may not be a comedic masterpiece, but I love this movie with every fiber of my being.

The cast and crew of this film is full of respected Hollywood names. The main character is played by Tom Hanks, one of the most famous actors to ever live, and his wife is played by Carrie Fisher. She was Princess Leia in “Star Wars,” one of the most popular movies of all time.

It’s directed by Joe Dante, who directed “Gremlins” as well as various other strange, genre bending family movies. The score is by Jerry Goldsmith, a composer with 18 nominations and one Oscar win.

The fact that all of those people signed on to be in this utterly weird movie is baffling to me. Ray Peterson, played by Tom Hanks, falls into paranoia as he suspects that his new neighbors are Satan worshippers. It’s as insane as it sounds.

But it has a charm that for some odd reason resonates with me. It’s the 80’s suburban setting. It’s the goofy and incredibly overly dramatic music. It’s the downright weird acting choices and shots that just lead to you questioning what’s a joke and what isn’t. It’s strange in so many ways, but I love it because it’s so much more than a movie to me.

When I watched it for the first time, I was in the fifth grade and watched it alone. I remember being confused about how I felt. I was laughing at the jokes but being somewhat scared by the random horror aspects woven into this 80’s family comedy.

A week later, I showed it to my brother and we had a good time watching it. I didn’t think much of it but then a couple of months later he told me he wanted to watch it again. That is when I not only began to appreciate the strangeness of this movie, but I also began to bond over it with my brother.

Since then, we have seen it countless times. My brother and I reference and joke about “The ‘Burbs’” constantly. By complete and total chance, I found a movie that brought my brother and me closer, and I’m so thankful for that connection.

I’ve shown this movie to people ranging from friends to family to significant others, and they just never quite get it, but my brother and I do.

He and I have a close relationship, but now he’s in college and lives over four hours away. We still get to spend time with each other, but that period of endless time together is over.

But that connection that he and I have will never break. It’s little things like a stupid movie that can help keep us close. Whenever I see that movie I think of my brother, and it just gives me feelings of pure nostalgia and comfort.

Not everyone loves “The ‘Burbs” and not everyone has to. It’s special to me. Just like my connection with this movie, everyone has something like it. Whether it’s a movie, a song, a show, whatever it is, we all connect over something and that is so beautiful to me.