Matt Damon's new movie Suburbicon hits theaters this weekend, and while it may have seemed like a surefire cinematic home run on paper, the largely negative reviews it's received indicate that the final product is anything but. Currently sitting at a paltry 29% over on Rotten Tomatoes (based on 106 reviews), a look at the talent involved behind the production may leave you scratching your head wondering where it all went wrong. Damon's as strong a leading man as there is, and Hollywood A-lister turned director George Clooney has a pretty solid track record. The supporting cast boasts some big names as well, including Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac. And when you realize that Suburbicon was written by the Cohen brothers (Clooney and his frequent collaborator Grant Heslov also lent a hand there), you can't help but feel that this film should have been much better than it is.
Actually, it's that last bit that may have sunk any chance Suburbicon had at greatness. The Cohen brothers actually started writing the film back back in the '80s and pitched it to Clooney a few years later. The project was then mothballed for years before Clooney and Heslov decided to combine it with a screenplay they were working on about a real-life black family that was the first to buy a home in an all-white community in 1950s Levittown, Pennsylvania. While we're sure the projects were spliced together with the best of intentions, the move resulted in one of the most disjointed and frustrating films of the year.
And that's about the nicest thing the negative reviews have had to say about this misfire.
As the film unfolds, things increasingly become further and further unbelievable, and lead to moments of would-be horror that instead made me laugh out loud, thanks to the incredulity of the situation at hand. -- Chicago Sun-Times
A garish and overblown crime melodrama that combines clumsy noir with lame jabs at 1950s suburban conformity and racism, two subjects whose satirical sell-by date are now decades past. -- The Wrap
Watching this movie is an experience in irritation, as if the audience were a cat and the filmmakers kept petting it in the wrong direction. -- Boston Globe
Suburbicon is not only unfunny, a bad sign for a black comedy, but deep-dyed dislikable. It’s the disastrous result of exhuming an old unproduced Coen brothers script about murder and perversity, then combining the film noir material with a facile denunciation of white racism in 1950s suburbia. These two plot elements have no organic connection with one another, though they do share a tone that manages to be simultaneously lurid, self-congratulatory, loftily scornful and utterly lifeless. -- Wall Street Journal
Clooney's film telegraphs everything with a beacon, eschews basic logic and didn't elicit a single smile, let alone laugh. The best that can be said about "Suburbicon" is that it sports some cool vintage wallpaper. -- Reeling Reviews
This startling misfire is a tonal disaster from start to finish ... Suburbicon is shockingly unfunny, mostly due to the leaden, shapeless direction of it all but also performances from Damon and Moore that never seem to settle on a tone or character. They’re lifeless. Maybe purposefully? As a commentary on dull white middle America? That’s possible, but not entertaining in any way. -- RogerEbert.com
It’s strikingly bad, too somber to be a comedy and too dizzy to work as drama ... The film is a collision of tones that would put a demolition derby to shame ... Both sides of the film lift up a rock to expose the wormy things crawling beneath, neither in a way that’s dramatically effective. -- Minneapolis Star Tribune
Suburbicon might be the biggest embarrassment to pious Hollywood liberalism since Crash won best picture in 2006. -- NPR
...as dreadfully miscalculated a studio picture as I’ve seen all year, Suburbicon is a disaster ... Clooney’s directorial career has been a bizarre 15 year reverse spiral during which he’s somehow managed to unlearn nearly everything about how to make a movie. -- The ARTery
It makes a run at cleverness, trying to be a dark screwball commentary on America’s race problem. But instead it’s just a spectacular flop ... Suburbicon wants to be a fable and a comedy, a screed and an entertaining indictment. Instead, it’s a baffling bummer, a misfire of epic proportions. -- Vox
To be fair, critics have consistently pointed out Oscar Isaac and young Noah Jupe as standouts. And given that nearly a third of the movie's reviews are at least fairly positive, Suburbicon isn't nearly the complete train wreck that recent releases like Geostorm or Boo 2! A Madea Halloween are. But still, as tonal disasters are concerned, it looks like Suburbicon will go down with the worst of the worst.