I did something that I never, well, let’s say rarely do in a theater. I went on my phone.
Before you go ballistic on me, I know a cardinal rule of movie-going is that you don’t go on your phone. If you need to take a call or send a text, you need to leave the auditorium.
In my defense, there were only two other people in the theater and they were sitting about four rows directly in front of me so I knew I wouldn’t disturb them. Why, then, did I break this most sacred rule? I had find out who came up with the idea for the horrible movie I was watching.
Suburbicon takes place in (I assume) the 1950’s in a stereotypical newly developed suburb. The kind in which every house looks the same, the yards are well-kept, kids play in the streets — that kind of thing.
The movie starts with a black family moving into the neighborhood and the town of white people going nuts over it. Their racism is on full display as the town planning commission decides to build a tall fence around the black family’s house so the neighbors won’t have to see them.
As a crowd builds in protest of the newcomers, the story moves to the house behind them, the home of Garrison (Matt Damon), Rose and Margaret (both played by Julianne Moore), and Garrison’s son Nicky. One night, men come into their home and kill either Rose or Margaret. Honestly, I don’t remember which one it was, but Garrison’s wife dies instead.
From there, things begin to unravel for the family, secrets are revealed and blah, blah, blah, this movie is not very interesting or entertaining. And while all these things are happening with Garrison’s family, the racists that have gathered a street over are growing in number and trying to make life difficult for the family that lives there who seem to be the only normal and good people in the whole film.
For a moment, let’s visit the storyline of the black family. That part’s not in the trailer. It’s not in the official synopsis of the movie either. Where did this come from? I’m not sure. And that’s how I felt about the whole of Suburbicon. I felt conned.
Seriously, go watch the trailer and tell me what you think this movie is about? I’ll wait.
Welcome back! You probably thought something like this, “Suburbicon is a dark, quirky comedy about a man whose wife is murdered because he owes money to the mob and when the killer comes back to take out his son, he defends the family, kills the killer and disposes of the body in a fiery explosion while he rides off on his son’s bicycle. Then things get worse as the town begins to unravel over the killing, the police start to close in and the mob boss shows up demanding the money.”
If you thought that then you’d be wrong. It’s okay, I though the same thing and about 30 minutes into the movie, I sat forward in my seat and said (out loud) “what is this that I’m watching?” I contemplated walking out at one point but stuck with it because I thought it might pick up and end better. I felt duped.
Back to who wrote the film, it was written by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, George Clooney, and Grant Heslov. Grant Heslov has worked with George Clooney to help him write The Monuments Men, The Ides of March, and Good Night and Good Luck. Clooney is a capable director but he doesn’t have a track record of solid, likeable hits. The Coen brothers, on the other hand, have a slew of great films under their belt ranging from The Big Lebowski to No Country for Old Men. This felt in every way like one of their films with rich, quirky characters, humor that you’re not sure you should laugh at, and a side story that somehow ties back to the main one.
The whole thing just didn’t work. It wasn’t funny, entertaining, and the characters, well, they made me hate a character played by Matt Damon.
The biggest con in Suburbicon is the one played on the people who go see it. But let's be honest, no one is going to the movies this weekend. We'll all be home watching Stranger Things 2 on Netflix.
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