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Unlike every other director in the 80's (except for Repo Man's Alex Cox, who did the original score for Suburbia), Spheeris knew that punk rock was about more than just having goofy hair, wearing a leather jacket, or aping that Billy Idol sneer. Instead of hoping for a credible performance from actors, she cast real punk rock kids, some of whom were really homeless! Her ensemble of non-actors turned out to be lovable, believable, and endearing. They are mostly innocent and unconscious of themselves or the camera, which has prompted the most criticism. We're not used to watching movies in which people don't (or can't) act. But this is the nature of the documentary style! Spheeris did not want acting, she wanted reacting and interacting. The relationships and the people come across as real and involving. Contrary to some claims, these kids do embody the punk rock experience of the 80's. I was there and can attest that the 'scene' in Suburbia was genuine. Best of all, punk rockers were portrayed as real people with the same fears, hopes, and dreams you and I have...
Also, people who criticize the production quality of Suburbia are missing the point entirely. Everything was shot on location in the "wrong" part of the Los Angeles suburbs, using mostly available light and sound. The script was thin, the acting non-existent, and the budget was obviously close to that of Kevin Smith's Clerks. But the whole of Suburbia is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts.Read more ›
Penelope Spheeris used real kids as opposed to seasoned actors. As a result, the movie has a genuine punk rock vibe, although the acting is nothing to write home about. Listening to the director's commentary, one learns the ins and outs of how and why certain aspects of the film occur. She took a lot of events taking place at that time and incorporated them into the script, such as the wild dogs in the beginning of the movie. One thing that I am kinda bummed out about is how she seems to be a bit embarassed by the movie. She almost makes excuses at times. Yes, the scene in which the two men shoot the wild dogs is a bit hard to stomach and we all know that that type of scene would never make it into a movie today. But that is one of the aspects that I love about Suburbia. It's a low budget, honest, straight out of the 80's movie. Penelope Spheeris should be 100% proud of it.
The music and live concert footage is great. D.I. and TSOL, to name a couple, provide a great soundtrack.
I've recommended Suburbia to many people over the past 16+ years and will continue to do so.
The film begins with a pretty shocking scene that seems to have little to do with anything (later we'll see it's sort of a metaphor, as there's quite a few throughout), and then cuts into a scene of a teenage boy named Evan difficulties within his home life that lead to him running away (moms is an angry drunk), wandering the streets of L.A. Evan soon falls in with a group of homeless teens who call themselves T.R., short for The Rejected, lead by Jack Diddley (Pedersen), at least he appears to be the leader as he seems the oldest and the only one with a car.Read more ›
If you are a punk rocker or have ever been a punk rocker, you need to see this movie.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I grew up watching this movie with my dad. Bought it as a gift. Great movie I highly reccommend it. Cane brand new.Published 19 days ago by Brittney sapp
There are not enough words to tell you how happy I am to own this movie again. For the record, if memory serves, the movie wasn't going to win any Oscars. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Aimee Quellar
The worst movie ever. If you like feeling depressed this one is for you. Shock value and terrible story telling.Published 4 months ago by P. J. Heffernan
thought I was ordering richard linklaters moviePublished 5 months ago by Joseph McGuinness (Ray Ray's Records)
Great movie, and the subject matter still resonates today. The picture quality is a little dated with some scratches here, and there. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mister David Royal Dill
This film is pretty cool, and has footage of TSOL,, the Vandals, and DI. Very cheezy but well worth your time to see some great eighties style after-school special about the... Read morePublished 5 months ago by R. Graham