Reminiscent of THAT THING YOU DO, but without the family-friendly content, THE SUBURBANS is about a one-hit wonder band from the eighties which finds their career revived after a music industry executive sees them play at a wedding. Although 18 years later, all four members are willing to give it another shot. They have moved on with their lives and must evaluate their abilities, goals and relationships.
THE SUBURBANS is co-written and directed by Donal Lardner Ward, who also stars in the picture. Ward plays Danny, former leader of THE SURBURBANS, a has-been eighties band that had one hit. After 18 years, the band is reunited at a wedding for Gil, played by Will Ferrell (SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE), who is the first to take the plunge. At the reception, band member Mitch (Craig Bierko of THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT) discovers that a young, attractive woman, whose husband has gone home in a drunken state, is a longtime fan of the Suburbans. With the hopes of getting a sexual chance with her, he convinces the others to play their famous song. After the band plays, Danny is later approached by record company executive Cate, played by Jennifer Love Hewitt of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, who wants to revive the group. He considers the possibility while his girlfriend, Grace (Amy Brenneman of HEAT and CASPER), reminds him that her biological clock is ticking.
The band decides to go for it, signing a contract that includes everything from re-releasing their one hit to starring in a music video. They move into a “rehearsal” house with their girlfriends except for Gil’s new wife, who went ahead on their honeymoon by herself. At first, Grace doesn’t agree to live in the house, but when she sees the attractive Cate, her jealousy encourages her to move in with the band. The band’s drummer, Rory, played by co-writer Tony Guma, brings along his girlfriend Lara (Bridgette Wilson of BILLY MADISON and LAST ACTION HERO) and her two kids.
The group’s individual mishaps are brought to light with the hopes of enticing “sympathy” from fans. Everything from Mitch’s sexual promiscuity with under-age girls caught on video to Rory’s deceit as an insurance salesman is revived, and the band begins to remember their initial downfall. Though they have a chance at stardom, they are faced with the possibility of failing again with a music career, and the decision to simply live their lives.
Unlike THAT THING YOU DO, THE SUBURBANS lacks innocence and a personable storyline, causing insufficient interest in the characters. The movie had instances of characters provoking other characters to think about immoral actions with respect to marriage, and a commitment between the two main romantic leads, though these were overshadowed by fornication. Crude comments were dispersed throughout the dialogue, including a young boy using the f-word, and later in another scene says some vulgarities over a microphone and is shown drinking champagne while his mother is watching. Using a child in this manner is only one of the many reasons viewers may find THE SUBURBANS to be an example of shallow filmmaking in the 90’s rather than a nostalgic look at the 80’s.
Pagan worldview with some moral elements such as two male characters arguing over whether an adulterous relationship will bring "hell & damnation" combated with anti-biblical & romantic elements; 29 obscenities including one used by a child, 3 profanities & numerous sexual references; implied & depicted fornication plus issues of heterosexual pedophilia; male & females shown in underwear but no nudity; alcohol use & abuse including a child drinking alcohol & a drunken man who is put into detox; smoking & marijuana use; and, cohabitation & promiscuity with underage girls.