Sunday, December 11, 2016

Cinema with Comestible Accompaniments: The 'Burbs

A safe place for lovers of movies and pun-based food recipes with a fondness for TBS's Dinner and A Movie.  Oh yeah, and all the classic Dinner and A Movie recipes will be veganized. 

I took a break from binge watching holiday movies to watch The 'burbs this week!

The Movie
The 'burbs (1989)
Leonard Maltin Review:  ** D: Joe Dante.  Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher, Rick Ducommun, Corey Feldman, Wendy Schaal, Henry Gibson, Brother Theodore, Courtney Gaines, Gale Gordon, Dick Miller.  Strange new neighbors set a neighborhood abuzz, and lead several slightly cracked compadres to extreme measures so they can learn just what's going on behind closed doors.  Comically warped view of suburban life takes far too much time to play out its paper-thin premise, and leads to (mostly) predictable results.  

Spoiler Alert:  There may be spoilers peppered though the movie portion of this post, consider yourself warned.

In the words of Robert Frost, "Good fences make good neighbors."  Enter the movie where you're not quite sure who the bad guys are.  Are they the creepy neighbors who rarely go outside and have a giant furnace in the basement?  Or are they the busybody neighbors who keep trespassing and causing numerous amounts of property damage?  Maybe those meddling neighbors should of just minded their own business, but where's the fun in that.

"Walter's dog just took a dump on Rumsfield's lawn again." - Ray

The director, Joe Dante, might sound familiar if you are a big fan of The Gremlins movies, Innerspace, Explorers, you know, defining 80's movies.  Not only that, but Gremlins should be on everyone's top 5 Christmas movies.  I know it gets a little fucking scary, but look into Gizmo's eyes and tell him it's not Christmas.  I dare you.  Aside from Dante, you have prime comedy-era Tom Hanks, right before he got into more dramatic roles and left his over-the-top hand gestures and his chris pratfalls to the wayside.  Lest we forget, Bruce Dern, who when I saw Nebraska (the movie), I thought to myself that guy looks really familiar.  Turns out he was in one of my favorite movies, MacGruber.  Just kidding, it's The 'burbs. (That was a Will Forte joke, in case that wasn't clear.  If you can't read it with my comical timing, it's your fault.)

"Art's got a gun." - Ray

This movie happens over a holiday week and obviously during the warmer months because it's assumed we are in the Midwest of the US and everybody is dressed like they are from California (maybe because it was shot on a backlot).  There are only a few holidays that children (i.e. Dave and Ricky) would have a week off and maybe Art and Rumsfield but Ray would need to use vacation time.  We have maybe an early spring break Easter week, Memorial Day (which would still overlap with the school year),  Independence Day (but that would involve more fireworks and patriotic fun, and lastly Labor Day, end of the summer party.  It's never mentioned except for the fact that Art and Rumsfield are always around and the movie only takes place over four days (five if you include the beginning when Ray wakes up early and walks over to the Klopeks house which could be included in the original four day depending on the time).  The movie has to start on either a Monday or Tuesday for Art to ask Ray if he's taking the week off at the beginning of the movie and for Ray to tell Carol to 'have a nice weekend' before he sends her off to her sister's an hour into the movie (day 4).  Not only that, why is he taking this time off, in the movie Carol (his wife) makes it sound like he had a nervous breakdown.

"...a hideous raging inferno." - Art

Let's talk about the Klopeks for a second.   Courtney Gains, who has starred in a million things, most notably other than The 'burbs,  Malachai from Children from the Corn and "Dixon" from Back to the Future (you might not remember the name, but you definitely remember the scene where some redheaded guy steal Lorraine from George McFly and Marty's hand starts to fade into non-existence, yeah, that cackling jerk was Courtney.  Special shout out to the The 'burbs minute podcast folks.  Listen to it because anyone could do a better job than I'm doing.)  For Henry Gibson (the doctor), my fondest memories of him may be from Bio-Dome or Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but he's been in everything.  Lastly, Brother Theodore, who was the voice of Gollum in the 1977 The Hobbit.

"Ricky Butler says they're nocturnal feeders." - Dave, Ray's son

"In southeast Asia, we call this type of thing bad karma." - Rumfield

Thank you, Joe Dante, for the Queenie close up.

"Ray, what were you saying the other day about half-cocked theories?" - Art

Random question, but does Ricky ever do anything more than move paint cans and order pizza?  Not that there is anything wrong that.


If you are into maps, you are going to love this: backlot map link
Here are the house #s and residents:
667: Walter Seznick
668: undisclosed
669: The Klopeks
670: The Rumsfields
671: The Petersons
672: Ricky Butler
673: The Weingartners (Art)

Ricky's house is the Munsters house which is why we never see enough of it to be recognizable.

"A soldier's way saves the day." - Rumsfield

The three movies that Ray Peterson flip through before he has his nightmare are Race with the Devil (1975), The Exorcist (1973), and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) starring Dennis Hopper for that last movie.

"Who started this, tuna neck?" - Carol

"As soon as that car leaves in the morning, I'm going over the fence and I'm not coming back until I find a dead body." - Ray

Shall we talk about the dog who played Queenie, appearing in Batman Returns, an episode of Coach, Pee-wee's Big Adventure, and most notably as Precious in The Silence of the Lambs?  There is a dog that has a better resume than most actors.

"Shut up and paint your house." - Rumsfield

Super spoiler: In the original script Ray Peterson was supposed to be killed by the Klopeks.  However, when Tom Hanks was cast, the studio didn't think the audience would appreciate witnessing Joe vs the Volcano getting killed onscreen.

" can't go now.  This is the best part.  I called the pizza dude." - Ricky

More shitty fun facts (via IMDB):

  • At the time of filming, Corey Feldman and Michael Jackson were good friends.  Bubbles, the famed chimpanzee of Michael Jackson, visited the set.  On these occasions he would defecated and spread his feces all over Feldman's trailer, to the point that Joe Dante had to ban Bubbles from the set.
  • Tom Hanks improvised the scene where he picks up the gurney and puts himself into the ambulance.
  • The Klopeks named their Great Dane after a notorious French serial killer, Henri Landru.
  • The film was entirely shot on the Universal Studios lot.
  • The  astronomic zoom at the beginning of the movie places the movie location in central Iowa; fictional Hinkley Hills is probably a 'burb of Des Moines.
  • In the Klopeks basement there is a sled with the name Rosebud - a reference to Citizen Kane (1941).
  • The trash that Art and Rumsfield throw into the street remains there for the rest of the movie and is run over several times by various people.
"Hey Pinocchio, where are you going?" - Rumsfield

The Recipe
Classic "Cul de Sac" Mac 'N' Cheese
(for original recipe click here)

For Cheese Sauce:
2 cups almond milk (or your favorite plant-based milk)
1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 onion
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine or coconut oil
1/4 cup shallots, minced
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt

For the Filling:
16 oz. dry macaroni
2 cup Daiya shreads (or your favorite vegan cheese)
1/4 cup or more nutritional yeast
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 dirty little secret

1.  Preheat the oven to 375F.  Grease a 2-3 quart casserole.

2.  Cook the macaroni until al dente (a minute or two less than the package instructions).  Rinse in cold water, drain and set aside.

 3.  Pour the non-dairy milk into a small sauce pan, stick the bay leaf to the onion with the cloves and add to the milk.  Slowly bring the milk to a simmer on a medium-low heat.  Melt 1/2 of the margarine in a medium sauce pan, add the chopped shallots and cook at a medium heat until soft.  Add the flour, dry mustard and white pepper and cook another 2 minutes.

4.  Slowly add the milk to the margarine/flour mixture, whisking constantly.

5.  Once combine in a blender, add the cashews (soaked, then drained), the vegetable broth, and the milk/margarine/flour mixture.  Blend until smooth.
6.  Pour the mixture from the blender back into the saucepan.  Add the studded onion and Worcestershire to the sauce and simmer at least 15 minutes, until thick and creamy.
 7.  Remove from heat, discard the onion.  Lightly season with thyme and just a pinch of nutmeg and cayenne.
 8.  In the greased casserole dish, place the cooked and drained macaroni.  Pour the cheesy sauce on top and few fist fulls of your favorite vegan shreads.  Mix well.

9.  Top with nutritional yeast and bread crumbs.

 10.  Dot with the remaining margarine and bake uncovered for 20 or 30 minutes until brown and bubbly.

11. Don't become a creepy neighbor and enjoy The 'burbs.

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