‘Suburbicon’: As the Box Office Craters, Clooney and Damon Attack Suburban Americans… Again

Paramount Pictures

George Clooney has directed another movie — you know, because his previous ones have been such huge moneymakers. This one is called Suburbicon. It stars Matt Damon. It hits theaters October 27. The reviews have been a tad brutal. And I’m guessing that these two paragraphs from the Hollywood Reporter pretty much sum things up:

But it pushes too hard from the start, then steadily goes off the rails from dark to dyspeptic, lacking the originality, bite or tonal consistency to make up for dipping from a very familiar James M. Cain well. Its bigger problem is a timely subplot about virulent racism among white Americans that comes off as a mishandled afterthought.

Paramount’s best bet is to push the novelty of Matt Damon and Julianne Moore playing characters who appear on the surface to be regular 1950s archetypes — the dependable breadwinner and the sweet-as-pie homemaker, respectively — before being exposed as amoral schemers when their bad decisions unravel. But there’s been a long history of more incisive movies about the poisonous soul lurking beneath the reassuring cookie-cutter order of suburban America, and this one ultimately brings little that’s fresh.

Yes, you read that correctly. Clooney’s story is set during the Eisenhower 50’s and will look at the dark, hypocritical and racist underbelly of white, suburban America — a genre that really hasn’t really been explored thoroughly enough through American Beauty, Donnie Darko, The Stepford Wives, Revolutionary Road, Blue Velvet, Happiness, Parents, The Ice Storm, Little Children, Ordinary People, In the Bedroom, Far From Heaven, The Virgin Suicides, Pleasantville, Edward Scissorhands, Serial Mom, Heathers, The Truman Show, Suburbia, and, and, and…

Honestly, is there a leftwing Hollywood trope more played out than the dark-underbelly-of-suburbia-genre? Actually, there is one. The leftwing McCarthyism genre. So why doesn’t Clooney just go ahead and direct one of those– oh, wait.

With the 2017 box office coming off its worst summer in 25 years, could the timing be worse to hand a mediocre director like Clooney tens of millions of dollars to once again insult millions and millions of customers with yet another attack on suburbia? Yet another tired, elitist attack from our Hollywood Overlords, from snobs who have probably never even driven through a suburb, much less spent any real time in one?

Apparently, the Suburbicon screenplay was originally written and then wisely tossed aside by the marvelous Coen brothers. Clooney dug it out of some pile, gave it enough of his own spin to earn a writing credit, and then brought it to the screen just in time to give former moviegoers yet another reason to remain former moviegoers.

You know, and this is just an idea, but maybe if our Hollywood Overlords actually spent some real time in suburbia, they would figure out just why we are no longer going to the movies. Color us provincial, but we do have some options outside of paying $30 to be insulted on a Friday night — and not just cow tipping.

Am I judging this movie before I’ve seen it?

Is Clooney judging an entire culture he has never been exposed to?

Any other questions?


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