I was at a pub with a few buddies last night to watch the Twins take on the Cardinals and decided to scroll through Twitter between innings about halfway through the game when I happened upon a tweet from director Joe Dante which read “#RIP Rick Ducommun.”
I actually let out an audible “Oh, no!” which carried through the smallish venue. It wasn’t for show. I didn’t even think about it. It was simply my natural reaction to the news of the passing of someone whom I’d never met, but held deep meaning to me.
The ‘Burbs is, was and ever shall be the movie of my childhood. I watched it over and over again and can go word-for-word whenever it’s playing. There’s just no explaining its impact, it was pre-Oscar Tom Hanks, an incomparable Bruce Dern, Leia at her most annoying, Corey Feldman in his last role of note, the Klopeks and “that piece of scum-barking rat” Queenie — just the thought of it floods my mind with happiness and brings a smile to my face.
Make no mistake, however, it was the paranoid buffoonery of Ducommun’s Art Weingartner that made the movie the cult classic it has become. From his inept sniping to comedic overeating to unconscious chanting to trash-talking he was incapable of backing up, Art made The ‘Burbs work.
How deep was Ducommun’s impact for me personally?
Many moons ago I was having a playful back-and-forth with a cute girl when she offered a sarcastic “Kiss my ass.” My response was a an involuntary reflex, “We don’t have that kind of time.” A well-timed ‘Burbs reference to be sure, but it took some explaining for me to get back to being the man she was originally flirting with.
And regardless of topic — sports, politics, unpleasant assignment at work or just a suggestion of something to do on a day off — if it doesn’t entice me, it receives my stock answer: “I’d rather chew broken glass.” Though I tend to stay away from the kibble, if you know what I’m talking about (and I think that you do).
We all make movie references and drop lines from time-to-time, but Ducummon’s little dark comedy from 1989 has stayed and will stay with me for a lifetime.
To paraphrase another Feldman flick: Though I’d never met Rick Ducommun, I know I’ll miss him forever.
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