Monday, October 30, 2017

Movie Review: "Suburbicon" (2017)

Director: George Clooney
Year: 2017
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

It's 1959. An African American family has just moved to Suburbicon, a picturesque suburban neighborhood. They are happy to be there, but the same cannot be said for their neighbors, who are up in arms worrying their community is going to hell. Meanwhile, the residents of Suburbicon fail to notice a string of murders and other shady happenings going on in a nearby house.

One thing we can say right off the bat is subtlety and nuance aren't exactly strong points for director George Clooney. For those who saw the "Suburbicon" trailer, just know the movie that's advertised there is nowhere near the one you're going to get. This film starts out displaying what is perceived to be a nice 1950's suburban community called Suburbicon. When an African American family, the Mayer's, move into the neighborhood, all of the inhabitants of this quaint town go full-on white supremacist on this unsuspecting family who didn't do a damn thing wrong. These white people stand outside of the house singing loudly, chanting slurs, banging instruments, and causing chaos all hours of the night, eventually to riotous levels. Around the same time, one street directly behind this nonsense, a couple of men break into the Lodge family's home and murder Mrs. Lodge, played by Julianne Moore. From there, the focus is primarily on the Lodge family and the aftermath and mystery surrounding this murder, which spirals into more chaos and death. This all goes on while the disgusting racist activity continues in the background as a running subplot to the main murder story.

We absolutely get what George Clooney is trying to do here. We understand how he wants to show that racists use scapegoats to explain all of the bad things that happen in their lives, how people constantly look for the "threat of the outside" all while ignoring the threat from within. Unfortunately, this message is handled in such a ham-fisted manner that it comes off as clumsy, annoying, and mean-spirited, all while having the exact opposite effect he wanted. The tone is so uneven that the movie doesn't really know what it wants to be. It attempts to be a powerful, hard-hitting social drama, a dark comedy about a bumbling criminal, and a murder-mystery, but it fails at all of these aspects. Half of the time, it feels like many of the moments in "Suburbicon" are meant to be funny, but are nowhere near humorous. Other times, things that are clearly supposed to be serious in tone come off as humorous. It's a straight-up clusterfuck.

We were very much looking forward to "Suburbicon" and are especially disappointed because the film has such a strong cast of characters behind and in front of the camera. Hell, it's even written in part by Joel and Ethan Coen, and we love almost all of their projects. There are many Coen-esque elements here, right down to the look of the film. The entire area of Suburbicon looks directly ripped from the minds of Joel and Ethan Coen, but once George Clooney and his writing partner Grant Heslov went in and tinkered with their script, we have a hunch that's when it turned into a whole different ballgame. The set design and costumes are all excellent looking. Unfortunately, the story and its structure are little more than a cheap imitation of what could have been a far superior Coen brothers project. The high point of this film is Oscar Isaac, who shows up for a brief amount of screen time. He seems to be the only one who knows and fully grasps the intended tone of the picture, but he's gone before he's ever really given a chance to do anything drastic, important, or worthwhile with the material.

In the end, "Suburbicon" is a huge freakin' mess. It's obvious that George Clooney's heart was in the right place. However, this feels like three separate films that have been combined into one, and no matter how hard he tried, the pieces never quite fit together. It's one of the worst and most disappointing movies of the year for us.

**Did you know we have a podcast? Check out the episode where we discuss "Suburbicon" right here! Our review starts at 17:45!

My Rating: 3/10
BigJ's Rating: 3/10
IMDB's Rating: ~4.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~26%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment