Yeah, ‘con’ is fairly apt.

M uch like the suburbs themselves, Suburbicon has a promise of delightful and the delivery of disappointing. This seems par for the course in a year replete with great trailers concealing underwhelming films. Wilson, anyone? Colossal? Collateral Beauty? Passengers? Suburbicon not only had the temerity to sucker me with a wonderful trailer; the preview also gave away the climax, which is unforgivable regardless of circumstance.

Suburbicon is two films – one that sorta works about the first black family moving to a lily-white suburb, and one that doesn’t about an average man, his wife, son, lover, and the mob. Unfortunately, the movie chose to spend 80% of its time on the latter. I had no idea that many suburbs were deliberately engineered to exclude minorities; in retrospect, it makes perfect sense. So when a family moves to Suburbicon and makes no secret of *gasp* being black (!), well that just doesn’t sit well with whitey. Despite the 1959 setting, this story line couldn’t have been more spot-on in 2017 were the film entitled “Charlottesville” instead of Suburbicon. However, after introducing mom (Karimah Westbrook), the movie concentrated almost entirely on the heated, racist reactions from townspeople whenever the subject came up again.

Then the camera panned from the new neighbors to its primary tale, where it stayed for most of the film. Gardner Lodge (nerdy Matt Damon), lives with his pre-pubescent son Nicky (Noah Jupe), his wheelchair bound wife (Julianne Moore) and her sister, also played by Julianne Moore. And if you think that wasn’t puzzling for me, you don’t know me very well. It gets better … Gardner is in love with one of the Julianne Moores, but not in love with the other. How is that even possible? I suppose he, Moore-over or Moore-often-than-not considers less is Moore.

Do I go into what an awful name “Gardner” is? Better not; suffice to say I’m glad it’s no longer Constant.

That night, the Lodges have a home invasion. We assume it’s race-motivated as the Moores encouraged their Nicky to play nice with the new neighbor earlier in the day. A hostage gathering and a chloroform party later, Nicky wakes in the hospital with dad and aunt, but no Moore mom. And this is where the film loses me. Suburbicon has the trappings of a Coen brothers script with regards to use of dark humor, plot twists, and mood, but fails to identify a reasonable protagonist. When you stop caring about Matt Damon and Julianne Moore, and it is a “when,” not an “if,” the Coen-heads script loses whatever charm it might have had.

Suburbicon isn’t as bad as its miserable imbd rating suggests (as of this writing, it’s at 4.5). It certainly isn’t good, but under 5.0? To me, that says the alt-right got to trolling again, offended by the portrayal of the kind of suburban assholes who would teem at the base of the property owned by the only black people in town to chant, threaten, and riot. At this point in time, I’d say no group in the world gets better organized than insular bigots. “What’s that? I can spew my hate consequence-free? I’m in! Let’s all give Suburbicon and that snooty George Clooney no stars! That’ll show ‘im!” And it sure did. George won’t be releasing any more movies this week.

♪Ev’ry trailer ‘bout this film
It got me out of bed
Implying there’s a mob
And for the previews come my way
Matt Damon, he’s ok
The splicing seems to say
Fight the mob, sha na na na, sha na na na na

Sha na na na, sha na na na na
Sha na na na, sha na na na na
Sha na na na, sha na na na na
Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip
Mum mum mum mum mum mum
Not the mob, sha na na na, sha na na na na

Oh when I sat in my seat
I watched it through and though
All my brain really had to say
Suburbicon doesn’t work for me
And when I get back to the site
Where the trailer played
Hintin’ and suggestin’
Tell me I’m protestin’
‘Bout a mob
That I never could find♫

Rated R, 105 Minutes
Director: George Clooney
Writer: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen and George Clooney & Grant Heslov  (damn you, Grant!  This is all Grant’s fault, isn’t it?)
Genre: Messin’ with the mob … or at least that’s what the trailer suggested
Type of being most likely to enjoy this film: Clooney’s goonies
Type of being least likely to enjoy this film: An odd combination of disappointed film fans and the Alt-right

♪ Parody Inspired by “Get a Job”

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