SUBURBICON- The Tale of Two Movies

Clooney and The Coen Brothers Collide

George Clooney’s new film, Suburbicon, is based on a script that the Coen Brothers wrote and he wrote some of it too with his buddy. His buddy is Grant Heslov.

Sorry. That did not come out proper. Too clunky. Let me try again.

Suburbicon, the new movie directed by Hollywood A-lister George Clooney, is based on a script by the Coen Brothers and he wrote some of the script too with his long-time collaborator, Grant Heslov.

Ouch. That’s terrible. Still not right. I’m simply trying to communicate two thoughts at once and they just don’t seem to go together. One last time (because comedy works in 3’s and this is the material this week, folks).

George Clooney made a movie that the Coen Brothers wrote but added another movie to that movie so that there are two movies going on and they DO NOT FIT TOGETHER. This was not on purpose. Clooney took a story that is textbook Coen Bros.- a mean-spirited piece of pulp fiction set in the 50s with crisp dialogue- and added his own 2 cents. Which is fine in most cases, but he did not meld the two. So, you are watching one movie then another one pushes itself in. It’s distracting and unnecessary. And from Clooney, who is incredibly hit or miss behind the camera, it is a weirdly amateurish exercise.

The two movies:

Movie #1: The main event is a story about a bunch of bad people doing a bunch of bad things.  I’m not sure if there are supposed to be twists or reveals so I will tread lightly on what actually happens. No need to spoil, no need to alert. I knew what was happening the entire time and I am decidedly bad at solving any mysteries. Let’s just say there are very few characters to cheer for save a young boy named Nicky played with quiet charm by Noah Jupe.

There are crossings and double crossings. Matt Damon heads the stellar cast you would expect with all of these Elites putting on a show. He’s good, has some little moments that are nice. Julianne Moore gets to play twins and she’s good. Oscar Issacs shows up late to the game and brings some needed levity. He’s perfectly good. They all do their jobs.

The story starts slow and hits stride in fits and pieces. Clooney struggles finding the comedy in the horror often. That’s when the film can border on being mean. For the most part, things stay fun. The Coens in Burn After Reading mode.

Movie #2: This is the Clooney Contribution. I guess if you are going to make a movie set in 50s suburbia why not shove in some White Privilege shaming? You know, to go along with the semi-fun story about everyone killing each other right next door.

An African-American family moves in to the neighborhood causing all the closedminded assholes to go crazy. They are not welcome, not in their picture-perfect slice of Americana ripped from the pages of Better Homes and Gardens. So, the poor family is yelled at and not allowed to buy groceries. A group forms outside of the house. Rocks are thrown, cars set ablaze. But the family keeps their dignity, keeps their heads up high.

And this is connected to the other film because the two houses share a backyard.

It’s all too forced. Smashed in. And heavy-handed. So very heavy-handed. The cutbacks to this movie just break pace and, ultimately, says nothing new or all that important. Racism is bad. Agreed. People in the past were hateful and did terrible things. Absolutely. We still have the problem in the country today, it’s just better hidden. Yep. And, so then, now what. What is your point?

There isn’t much of one. Sorry, George.

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