Combine “The ‘Burbs” with a Folgers Coffee/Dockers Pants commercial, chuck in a healthy dose of domestic terrorism, and you’ve got the recipe for Arlington Road.
Jeff Bridges plays Michael Faraday, a professor at George Washington U. who teaches classes about terrorism. It seems that the new breed of US terrorists are no longer buck-toothed country fucks out to spike the resevoir with LSD and shotgun as many deer X-ing signs as possible. Rather, they are a well-oiled crack team of suburbanites who want to blow up the FBI headquarters in Washington DC.
Enter Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, and their litter of Hitler Youth as Faraday’s new suburban neighbors/unabombers, the Langs. Faraday begins to suspect Lang is a homegrown terrorist when he (gasp!) accidentally gets some mail addressed to Lang from (oh dear god!) the University of Pennsylvania, a school Lang did not attend. Faraday starts to piece together the truth about Lang out of clues so circumstantial, Sherlock Holmes would’ve been sitting around with his thumb up his ass wondering how they all fit together. But this is a movie, so put them together he does. Naturally no one will believe his discovery that the Langs are planning a bombing, because they are a wholesome family whose only apparent subversion is serving bad BBQ at their cookouts (a felony in suburbia).
The Langs end up succeeding in their plot to nuke the FBI HQ, and, through a totally implausible plot twist, manage to pin it on Faraday. I think by the end of the movie we’re supposed to believe that Lang moved in next door to Faraday intentionally, because he knew Faraday was a paranoid wacko. Furthermore, I think we are supposed to believe that Lang orchestrated leaving all the clues so Faraday would zealously follow up on them and tell people that Lang was a terrorist. Lang ‘s brain was so big that he also knew nobody would believe Faraday, because after all, he’s a paranoid conspiracy theorist whose FBI agent wife was killed during a raid on suspected terrorists, thereby discrediting him and shifting suspicion away from Lang….
What a run-on sentence. What a run-on movie. Really all you need to know is that Lang sticks a bomb in Faraday’s trunk and tricks him into driving into the FBI building’s parking garage. BLAM! Milking Oklahoma City for every entertainment dollar possible.
Ruby Ridge and Oklahoma City rip-offs aside, the most annoying thing about Arlington Road is that, every time Faraday turns around, particularly when he’s doing sensitive “background research” on the neighbors (cue tense/Hitchcock music) they suddenly appear right next to him. “What are you doing neighbor?” Jesus, can’t people in movies hear? What about peripheral vision? All gone? I mean, the Langs pop up everywhere but the Faraday’s downstairs crapper. DC must be one small town.