Neighbors

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Release: Friday, May 9, 2014

[Theater]

Oh, there’s a condom on my front lawn; I guess here goes the neighborhood.

A young married couple’s dreams of making many a wonderful memory in their first home together are dashed when they learn that a fraternity is moving in next door.

Despite said frat house being filled with rowdy, hormonal twenty-year-olds who all excel at making social connections, it’s Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) who take the first step to meet their new neighbors. Of course, their wanting to introduce themselves doesn’t come without a motive. The Radners would like to lay down some ground rules so that both parties understand one another and life may go on without incident. But after a party one night, any supposed understanding that was held between both houses is quickly forgotten and the Radners are forced to call the police after being kept awake all night.

Mac sees no reason why the phone call should cause problems. After all, they did honor Delta Psi President Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron)’s one simple rule: give him a heads-up before resorting to calling the cops. Indeed, they try their best to honor it multiple times but their calls go unanswered, which leaves Mac and Kelly with no choice but to have the party busted up. Unfortunately, the members of Delta Psi see this as a big breach of trust and an open invitation to start making life difficult for their crotchety neighbors. Pranks escalate from innocent physical gags (surprise, there’s an airbag in your couch!) to some seriously creative stunts that pose threats to public health and safety.

The same directorial vision responsible for relatively robust comedies such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek and The Five-Year Engagement is now taking American suburbia by storm. Originally titled Townies, this is a film where all of the themes are in some way, shape or form recycled from comedies of an Apatow ilk. Call it predictable, but Rogen being Rogen here just might be the best thing for this farce. Even though Stoller’s new film is moulded through formula, here the familiarity creates an experience that’s wholly surprising — if only because of how much pain and how many tears the content is capable of producing.

If comparisons help, think Superbad meets Home Alone.

Many thanks are owed to great chemistry between Neighbors‘ key players. Rogen and Byrne have an undeniable charm that actively boosts one another’s confidence, to a degree that their performances often feel improvised; performances that thrive off an uncontrollable and manic energy present in whatever room they are in. Where Byrne and Rogen must exercise caution in not overplaying their immaturity, boisterous performances from Efron and Dave Franco as fraternity leaders manage to balance maturity and all-out debauchery to the point where each character’s mental state could turn on a dime and remain thoroughly believable.

Admittedly, Efron’s a serious concern going in. He doesn’t seem to be the caliper actor one can take seriously, even when put up against the likes of a man who’s had relative success doing stoner comedies almost exclusively for a living. But preconceived notions of this Hollywood hunk are shattered when Efron reveals a fraternity president who is equal parts prideful and altruistic — convincingly so, too, as he shows compassion towards his pledges in a particular scene which likely no one is going to see coming. Its a development that truly gives Neighbors credibility as a comedy. We want to party with these people because they show some sense of decency. Contrast that to the parents, who demonstrate a surprising thirst for vengeance.

Regardless of its archetypical premise, and the fact that the story won’t exactly be seared into any viewer’s long-term memory, the new film from Stoller is the new big boy comedy on the block. Filled with strong performances — a surprisingly sympathetic Efron is arguably the largest and most pleasant surprise — and an impressive consistency with its variety of gags both perverse and clever, Neighbors is one of the best comedies of the year so far.

For the ladies, I present Zac Absfron

For the ladies, I present Zac Absfron

3-5Recommendation: The obvious attraction is the name Seth Rogen, and coming in at a close second is the conflict he has with the neighboring frat house. Rogen not only doesn’t fall short of, but in some ways he surpasses expectations with a performance that might be his most coherent thus far. His pairing with Rose Byrne is simply perfect, but the fraternity brothers’ characterization is the real winner. They are simultaneously a blast to watch and the biggest reason to root for the older couple. If you expect things to go beyond the ridiculous, this is right up your alley. Plus, this features a full-on fight with dildos, which obviously no comedy can ever be without.

Rated: R

Running Time: 96 mins.

Quoted: “Infinite. . .B.J.’s. . .”

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Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com

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21 thoughts on “Neighbors

  1. Wow, you went deep, deep into the breakdown of this film 🙂 I agree on all your points and enjoyed the film, the film was starting to lose me near the end but then they put a nice full stop to the film with a silly quirky ending. Top review.

  2. Yes, yes, yes to Rogen and Byrne. Such a weird-sounding pair, but they work together brilliantly. And yeah, isn’t Zefron great? Didn’t know how he would fit into this one, but he had some really great moments–particularly the whole Batman bit. Happy to hear your liked this one, too! Spot-on review! 🙂

    • Thanks! I know, color me surprised that the pairing of Rogen and Byrne worked so deliciously well. And Efron really was the biggest surprise to me. The fact that I was able to feel empathy towards Delta Psi was mostly attributed to his and Franco’s really likable characters. It was just one of those comedies that got things right, and refused to let up on the joke telling. It had me in stitches, I swear. Just, a great time. On par with This is the End, if you ask me. 😀

    • 😉 And as always, I realize. hahaha! Nah. Not at all. I thought the trailer not only had probably the best the film had to offer, I didn’t even think the trailer was particularly funny. I can’t explain why I didn’t like it when I have liked plenty of other Seth Rogen’s stuff before. But I gave it a go anyway and was greatly surprised. It really is worthwhile checking out. It’s a somewhat intelligent comedy revovling around a good premise. Even though the conclusions are predictable and the ultimate message won’t resonate

  3. So great to read so many positive reviews for this one. Rogen always makes me laugh and Byrne does so well in comedies – she was hysterical in Get Him to the Greek and Bridesmaids. I think I like her way more in films like these than in dramas.

    • Hey Sati, I too was very happy to report good news about it! Often times, as much of a fan of Rogen that I am, these comedies are hit-and-miss. This one was solid.

  4. Excellent write-up Tom. Have been a bit wary about seeing this, but heard many good things! Sounds like a solid cast doing something different too. (Apart from Rogen obviously).

    Adam.

    • Hey Adam, thanks man! I would actually say that based on how this film is written, Rogen is far better here than he’s been in other things. He is still very much himself, but. . he fits better into his character here, and seems a bit more well-rounded than in times past. This was a terrific little surprise. I’m glad I saw it

  5. Laughed long, hard, and consistently throughout this. But what really stayed in my mind after it was over, was the fact that it actually had a message to pass on here, and it was one that worked, too. Good review Tom.

    • Thanks Dan, yes indeed, Neighbors surprised on many levels. It was a hilarious comedy and it did seem to spread a good message. Most of all, I was impressed by how much i ended up siding with Delta Psi here. Performances all around were just great!

  6. This was a funny comedy. It didn’t reinvent the wheel. It was just simple fun. I mean the whole story is summed up on the poster: Family vs. Frat. I laughed a lot but there were some awful parts too,. That breast pump scene was awful. Overall I enjoyed it though.

    • Yeah I honestly didn’t know what to make of that scene. . .that was, uncomfortable for sure. . .

      I remember that you did, too. I honestly didn’t have much hope going in and was greatly surprised, so it boosted it from what I was originally going to go with (6/8) to the 7. This I don’t really think was THAT memorable of a movie, but the surprise factor with Efron sent me over the top. Good stuff.

  7. Pingback: Neighbors | Tinseltown Times

    • Thanks Mikey! There’s a lot of elements from Superbad that’s for sure. This is the End invites a few comparisons in that both are very consistently funny. I cackled my fool head off through this and wasn’t expecting to. 😀

  8. I am loving all of the topless Zefron images I’m seeing on the web today. What a great Monday! I’m also glad this one is getting decent reviews, because I do want to see it. I can’t get enough of these comedies, I hope they never stop. Great review!

    • 😀 😀

      I had to do one for the ladies. I’ve had so many. . .erm, other pictures. . . .that I had to balance out the scales.

      Neighbors was great. I look forward to reading your thoughts if and when you check it out. Thanks for coming on by Smash! 😀

    • Great man! Let me know how you think of it when you get to it. I had a lot of fun, and I quite honestly was not expecting to, despite my fondness for all things Seth Rogen (I know, I know).

      This just seemed to avoid becoming lame every step of the way. It’s pretty impressive.

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