“You call the cops, you violate the Circle of Trust, Focker.”
Is it Neighbors or Bad Neighbours? Regardless, at least we know the presence of neighbors in some shape or form is evident. In this new film, Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are Mac and Kelly Radner, a married couple with a newborn in tow. Though uneventful, life is good. Mac has a solid job, Kelly is a stay at home mom, and the neighborhood they reside in is very conducive for the raising of a child.
All that changes when a college fraternity moves into the neighborhood. It would bad enough but possibly doable if they were houses down, but no. This frat is right next door to this couple, and this is not one of the polite business networking frats. Led by its legend-seeking president Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), this organization majors in raging. An initial effort to exist in the same vicinity is made, but this effort doesn’t last long. There can be only one way this ends. Who will be forced to move first?
I didn’t have high hopes for Neighbors, but a few takes here and there from some of my favorite reviewers upticked my expectations. After watching, I do not share the overwhelming love that others may, but by and large it works. While not a complete laugh riot, it is amusing enough as a whole.
The premise sounds familiar, but it really isn’t. There may be films that have moments and subplots of feuding neighbors, but none that base their entirety around it. For that alone, it was different. Even if some humor appeared forced, respect is given for straying away from the same old same old in a story sense.
And the story itself has got some heart to it. It is an unexpected look at two men who despite seemingly being at different points in life, are really similar. In short, the movie alludes to the fact that nothing lasts forever. Both have fear of the unknown and end up masking it in various ways, and Neighbors does a good job at examining what each man is afraid of. This is just a small part of the movie’s high production. It never looks cheap, and there is some nice looking editing and action shots, especially when the party elements are at a fever pitch. Pretty nice stuff for a raunch comedy.
If only the humor was more prevalent. It is far from a comedic bore, but there are some stretches where nothing more than a slight chuckle was had. The movie is not a non-stop laugh fest, and not every comedy has to be. But with no humor to be had in certain scenes, some sections moved slower than others.
Pure conjecture, but the first half of the movie felt less humorous than the second. Makes sense somewhat; this half and mainly the first third is rather mundane in introducing us to these main characters. Still, things do not truly take off until the “bros before hoes” party. At this point on, the laughs were had consistently.
Oddly enough, the slapstick elememt in this is much more memorable than the dialogue. I say oddly because slapstick often invokes sentimemts of lazy effort (to me at least), but here it was funny! From a physical standpoint, there are many noteworthy scenes, known immediately when viewed. If only the dialogue matched the hilarity found in the gags. Not devoid of humor, but not laden with it either.
Three main stars make up the bulk of Neighbors. At this point in his career, Seth Rogen is who he is, and that is not a bad thing. He plays the well-meaning, occasional pot smoking, lovable man-child that has been done by him before. He is generally funny and endearing if a bit too loud during various instances. His wife, played by Rose Byrne, has some solid material in this one. Generally I have never been a fan and even hated her in most of her roles, but she is tolerable here and gets many chances to shine. Lastly, Mr. Zac Efron may be starting to find his way in comedy. He has some really good lines and reactions in multiple situations, and it should be intriguing to see where he goes from here.
Other bit players include Dave Franco as Efron’s right hand man, Ike Baronholtz as Rogen’s work buddy, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as a frat member. Franco has comedic talent, and also more of the poignant and reflective moments in the movie. Barinholtz may be a little too over the top, but not completely grating. It feels like CMP has been around for ages, yet he is my age. His career is still young, but these are his types of roles minus Fright Night and Kick-Ass. Nothing that hasn’t been seen before.
Neighbors may not be a top notch comedy, but it has genuine heart and enough humorous moments to recommend a view. It should serve as a nice change of pace amid the superhero films and monster movies already in theaters or scheduled to arrive shortly.
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