There Goes the Neighborhood

(Bill Phillips, USA, 1992)


"You're very angry, aren't you?" says failed psychiatrist Jeff Daniels to frazzled divorcee Catherine O'Hara as she advances towards him with a shovel in There Goes the Neighborhood.

This could be the motto of the entire film. Writer-director Bill Phillips has fashioned a relentlessly aggro story about suburbia where every pratfall and sight gag expresses some deep, diffuse hostility about the conditions of so-called normal life.

If you can enjoy the brittleness of its tone, the film is quite a treat. Many plot threads and characters converge on a particular suburban corner where a criminal once stashed millions of dollars. As the houses are excavated and trashed in a comic frenzy, the secrets of the characters are gradually revealed and their allegiances switched.

Rhea Perlman, Hector Elizondo and Dabney Coleman infuse their caricatured roles with great energy.

© Adrian Martin November 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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