New film “Suburbicon” actually can be enjoyed!

Kudos for the team who made Suburbicon for having four—count ’em—four union logos after the credits: Producers Guild, SAG-AFTRA, Teamsters, and IATSE. That’s just one of the film’s many good features. We liked this movie.

In the next-to-last scene, I realized that it was a comedy. If I had known that all along, I’d have enjoyed it more because it’s really pretty good. The problem, and the probable reason that it is setting records for tickets not sold, is that the film makers also weren’t sure it was a comedy. It might have been a murder mystery, a civil rights drama, or a horror story.

Suburbicon has elements that could be compared to some really great movies such as Night of the Hunter, Raisin in the Sun, and Pleasantville. If you saw those films and liked them, you’ll also like parts of Suburbicon—but you probably won’t enjoy the entirety as much unless you follow my advice: Think of it as a comedy.

The original script was from Joel and Ethan Coen. But the film’s credits show that two other writers jumped in and added their alien ideas. That was unfortunate, because the Coen brothers have an unbroken string of smash hit comedies. I wanted to see this movie because I love George Clooney and admire the way he trades in his matinee-idol image for self-sacrificing humor. I also admire leading man Matt Damon for playing superhero secret agents one day, then sappy zoo-buying dads the next. He takes it even further this time.

I also wanted to see the movie because I firmly believe that no one, no matter how hard they try, can poke too much fun at the 1950s in America. Even if it did nothing else, Suburbicon takes the air out of the balloon of sterile, racist, anti-communist, cold-war hysterical 1950s movies!

The plot: Two pre-adolescent boys, one Anglo and one Black, play a little baseball together in a perfect little all-white suburb in the late 1950s. Then there are mobs and murders right and left. Some of it fits right into whatever you may think of as the plot line, and some of it doesn’t. You’ll enjoy the movie as we did if you keep in mind: “It’s a comedy!”

Directed by George Clooney
105 minutes


Gene Lantz
Gene Lantz

Gene Lantz is a long time activist and trade unionist who writes from Dallas, Texas.