Suburban Madness (2004) starring Sela Ward, Elizabeth Peña, Brett Cullen, Rheagan Wallace, Kate Greenhouse, Brett Cullen, April Mullen directed by Robert Dornhelm Movie Review

Suburban Madness (2004)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Elizabeth Peña in Suburban Madness (2004)

Utter Madness

Clara (Elizabeth Peña - The Hollywood Mom's Mystery) and David Harris (Brett Cullen) have a good life; they have a nice house in Friendswood and own their own dental practice. But David then does something stupid he first feels sorry for Lisa Singer (Kate Greenhouse), a divorced woman and gives her a job and then has an affair with her. Eventually Clara discovers this and whilst she throws him out agrees to take him back as long as they fire Lisa but she doesn't trust him. It leads Clara to hire Bobbi Bacha (Sela Ward - The Day After Tomorrow) a private investigator who specialises in catching no good cheating husbands and the occasional cheating wife who has man trust issues of her own. But when Clara suspects David of seeing Lisa again she takes matters into her own hands in an unbelievable manner.

Splitting the title into two for a minute and "Suburban Madness" lives up to its name in many ways. The whole opening sequence sets up the suburban dream; big houses with pools in their gardens, kids playing in safety in the street, enjoying ice cream and plenty more. And then we get the madness, a scene which seems unbelievable as Clara not only runs down her husband for cheating but swings around to run over him multiple times and in doing so killing him. It sounds utterly far fetched yet this is based on a true story and Clara ran over David numerous times, whether or not she almost burst out of a tight red dress as shown in this movie is another matter but yes this did happen.

April Mullen and Sela Ward in Suburban Madness (2004)

But there is more madness than just that because "Suburban Madness" has this incredibly strange, comical tone which is seriously distracting. I am not just on about the scene where Elizabeth Peña almost bursts out of her dress but one about the whole subplot surrounding Bobbi Bacha and her assistant Jesse James who believe all men are cheats and it is in their blood to cheat. Not only does this hate of men come across as completely over the top but so do the characters who border on being parodies with their bright clothes, Texan attitude and less than subtle snooping. It makes this a confused movie because it is not a real dramatization of the very strange case but at the same time it is not a comedy, it is simply madness and annoying madness at that because it makes it very hard to watch.

Now if you ignore the story for a moment and judge the acting then Elizabeth Peña does a nice job of playing Clara with this strange mix of woman spurned and irrational wife. And Sela Ward whilst over the top is just as entertaining as Bobbi Bacha comical for being such a man hater. But these characters are not real and they along with others make "Suburban Madness" a hard movie to watch.

What this all boils down to is that "Suburban Madness" is a failure, confused as to whether it is a dramatization of a true crime or comedy making it very hard to watch.