MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Neighbors’

neighbors

Film: Neighbors
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco

Seth Rogen and his familiar brand of gross-out gags, vulgar language and oft-times belly laugh inducing humor excels in another strong comedic outing with Neighbors. Accompanied by the self-deprecating pretty boy, Zac Efron, the film not only works as a comedic piece but also as a commentary on the blurred line between growing from being a college partier into a responsible parent firmly planted in adulthood.

Neighbors follows Mac Radner (Seth Rogen) and his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne), who as new parents are confronted with difficulties when a rambunctious frat house moves next door. After a few incidents caused by the frat house leader, the refusing-to-grow-up Teddy Sanders (Efron), Mac and Kelly are forced to take matters into their own hands as they try to push out the frat from their ideal life.

One thing has to be said for this film from the get-go, it only runs 90 minutes. Most comedies released today like The Other Woman and Anchorman 2 run excruciatingly close to two hours. That isn’t to say that all comedies fall under the curse of having things go on for too long but 90 minutes is perfect. It is a perfect length to tell a comedic story without tiring the viewer. Although this film slogs a little bit in the closing actions of the film, it succeeds in having a pace that is akin to a college frat party for most of its runtime. Unlike that same metaphor for a frat party though, you will remember what you saw in the film the next day.

The comedic chemistry between all of the actors in the film really set this apart from most studio-produced comedies today. Rose Byrne, who uses her native Australian accent in the film, is the perfect comedic companion to Seth Rogen as she is completely fearless to do whatever boorish routine is thrown at her. There is one sequence in the film that if an actress was uncomfortable with her body, would completely refuse to do but Byrne pulls it off as one of the best gags in the film. Rogen is at his finest here with a tad more dramatic role as he plays a father trying to do right by everyone while still trying to be ‘cool’ in the eyes of the frat house.

Efron, although hilarious at multiple points in Neighbors, can be a little too self-deprecating as he riffs off of the pretty boy image that society has of him. Other than that though, the supporting players among the likes of Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Ike Barinholtz, Hannibal Buress, and even Lisa Kudrow make Neighbors rise above most of the un-funny material that is churned out today on the screen. Universal has something huge on their hands here and I hope that people turn out in droves to see this. The financial success should be akin to 2013’s This is The End even though it is booking among some huge blockbuster films.

Nicholas Stoller who directed some extremely enjoyable comedies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to The Greek, is on his A-game with Neighbors. Every frat party scene plays out like a separate hilarious vignette that reflects the theme of each party. For instance, one of the parties where massive amounts of weed are dispersed through the house’s ventilation systems, the direction and pacing are perfect. Much like being under the influence of such a substance, things can seem slower, much more vivid and somewhat distorted. Just like the way it is presented on the screen.

The one huge thing that played uproariously to the audience (and to myself, too) was the verbal banter between Rogen and Efron. You have Efron who is a wise cracking college student and Rogen who is a veteran when it comes to reciting dialogue to comedic chagrin. Efron proves that his screen presence is as strong as Rogen’s and not just a mindless vessel with washboard abdominal muscles. Even though the film highlights Rogen and Byrne’s happy life, the fraternity members are given their own time to shine as tensions rise between the members with graduation looming. Like a lot of fraternities, the immense pressure to make their certain class stand out amongst the history is played off hilariously. Fraternities may be all about your fellow brother/member but what happens when specific pledges want to move on from the regular antics that the club causes and into a successful life after college? This facet gives Efron and Franco time to get all of their animal instincts out on the table in a very funny way.

Neighbors has this incredible comedic sleight of hand though. Over the film’s runtime, we are presented with plenty to laugh at in the misadventures of Mac and Kelly when it comes to the frat house next door. But, even though not a minute goes by without a laugh, when things slow down and the drama comes to the forefront, we still care. Albeit being a kind of abrupt change from comedy to drama, it’s still pulled off as we still enjoy seeing Mac and Kelly’s marriage life grow and move forward. That’s ultimately what sets apart Neighbors from the abundance of comedies out today, it causes us to care even when all we want to do is laugh at such buffoonery.

SCORE: B+

Written by: Sam Cohen — (Follow him on Twitter)

Sam Cohen

Sam Cohen is that guy you can't have a conversation with without bringing up Michael Mann. He is also incapable of separating himself from his teenage angst (looking at you, Yellowcard). Read on as he tries to formulate words about movies!
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