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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Suburbia
Suburbia
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // R // December 26, 2005
List Price: $14.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Scott Weinberg | posted January 8, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

Half cautionary tale, half exploitation flick, and 100% cheesily outdated is Suburbia, from producer Roger Corman and then-punk rock girl Penelope Spheeris. Although it must have seemed pretty raw and incendiary back in its day, Suburbia now seems (to me, anyway) sort of the Reefer Madness of the punk movement.

Basically, we have a group of hateful, disaffected teenagers from Orange County, all of whom have awful parents and smelly clothes. The crew is known as "TR" for "The Rejected," although considering the way the movie goes, these auto-alienated brats are more the "Rejectees." As in, they bailed on their families because A) they were molested, B) mommy was a drunk, or C) consumerism, like, sucks, man.

So the TRs all live in an abandoned town house on the nasty side of the tracks, where wild Dobermans roam free (eating toddlers at will, mind you), cops have no power, and anarchy is king. Well, "anarchy" in the sense that the TRs steal cold-cuts from local houses and say words like "vibrator" when they harass a weekend garage sale.

Basically, Suburbia is a very old and rather cornball forefather to Trainspotting. (Suburbia is to Pong as Trainspotting is to Halo 2.) The acting performances from the all-amateur cast range from enjoyably raw to embarrassingly inept, and Spheeris' screenplay paints its characters and themes in only the broadest imaginable brush-strokes. (The "bad guys" are normal homeowners who love nothing more than slaughtering dogs on the side of the road.) But there's still a b-level exploitationeer's charm to Suburbia. It might be simplistic and silly to modern eyes, but it's still a perfectly watchable piece of cheesy social commentary.

The DVD

Video: It's a fuzzy, flat, and seemingly misframed full frame transfer. Yuck. I know it's a semi-obscure indie from 1984 and all that, but heck, this is DVD after all.

Audio: A fairly unimpressive Dolby Digital 2.0 track.

Extras: You'll get a loose, self-deprecating, and informative audio commentary with director Penelope Spheeris, a few cast & crew bios, a trio of trailers for Suburbia, and some previews for Saint Jack and Piranha.

Final Thoughts

"I was a good filmmaker ... before I sold out," says Penelope Spheeris on her audio commentary, and it's tough not to appreciate the gal's candor. Known most notably for her Decline of Western Civilization documentary trilogy, Spheeris went from pulpy schlock like Suburbia, The Boys Next Door, and Hollywood Vice Squad to her big break with Wayne's World ... before settling in on expensive sludge like The Beverly Hillbillies, The Little Rascals, Black Sheep, and Senseless.

Maybe she should get a backer who'd pony up a meager two million bucks for a Suburbia 2.

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