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Story

Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks) would like nothing better than to spend a quiet week's vacation in his suburban home, drinking beer and watching TV. But, spurred on by his two friends' spinning of boyish paranoid fantasies about their reclusive neighbors, the Klopeks, the usually down-to-earth Ray begins to suspect his idyllic neighborhood has been invaded by an evil force, to the point where he and his friends become psychotically nosey. You see where this is going, and you see it from a mile off. Only the general surface-thin plot is somewhat offset by director Joe Dante's fine sense of the absurd, and a host of engagingly played neighbor-types, namely Rick Ducommun as Ray's best friend who's always proposing bad ideas, and Bruce Dern as a sometimes wild-eyed ex-vet who'd love some action. Dante and crew seem to have a knack for keeping these broad characterizations light enough that you don't mind their superficiality. But the best jokes in this unprepossessing film come from composer Jerry Goldsmith's score; Bruce Dern's presence, for instance, is announced by the theme from Patton, and the boys' first approach to the Klopeks' for a meet-and-greet is buttressed by classic strains from Sergio Leone spaghetti Westerns. Kudos to the Klopeks, for their evil ways are ably embodied by Henry Gibson, Courtney Gains, and Brother Theodore. In particular, any suburb that finds it's inhabited by the likes of Brother Theodore is in dire need of new zoning laws. But Carrie Fisher's role as Ray's amiably long-suffering wife is thankless, and she deserves better. --Jim Gay

DVD Features

  • Color
  • Closed-captioned
  • Dolby
  • Widescreen

Cast

Tom HanksRay Peterson
Bruce DernLt. Mark Rumsfield
Carrie FisherCarol Peterson
Corey FeldmanRicky Butler
Wendy SchaalBonnie Rumsfield
Henry GibsonDr. Werner Klopek
Courtney GainsHans Klopek
Gale GordonWalter Seznick
Dick MillerVic
Robert PicardoJoe
Franklyn AjayeDetective #1
Rance HowardDetective #2
Nicky KattSteve Kuntz
Patrika DarboSuzanne Weingartner

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