There’s not a lot that can be said about the new, hard R comedy Neighbors. There are problems with the film certainly whether it is in some of the screenplay or in the editing but the film is very funny at points and features great performances from Rose Byrne, Zac Efron and Seth Rogen. Overall, I would recommend the film as an entertaining and lighthearted time the theater.
The Radners (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) have just settled into a cozy suburb when a wild frat house moves in. In trying to get to get the fraternity to leave the neighborhood, the two groups start fighting.
I’m getting really tired as of late of accusing movies of biting off more than they can chew. I said this for The Lego Movie, I said this for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and I said this for The Winter Soldier. But I apologize; this is something I have to say for Neighbors too.
The film tries to throw in social commentary about growing up. There is a certain level of criticism for both the family and for the frat which is something I think worked for the films advantage. The family is pranking the frat as a way to escape the fact that they are getting older and the frat is attacking the family because they are afraid that they will end up living like the family. With a higher level of competence, these themes could’ve worked in the films advantage. But the film through and through is still trying to be a Seth Rogen hybrid and an excuse for zany comedy. Not that a film can’t succeed at being both, National Lampoon’s Vacation manages to be a story about the craziness of family and a hilarious comedy at the same time. Most recently even, This is the End was extremely successful at being a heavy comedy and a criticism of celebrity culture at the same time. But this film lacks the competence or structure for the film to be able to make themes that they highlight throughout the film look not half assed. The film relies a bit too much on just being a solid, low budget comedy for anything that the film dramatically throws at you to be impactful.
The film is also extremely predictable. Usually in comedies of this style there is at least one jaw dropping moment that you did not see coming. Going back to the two previously mentioned comedies, Clark Griswold going insane with a gun in Family Vacation or Danny McBride kidnapping Channing Tatum in This is the End. I think the moments where I did not see something coming were few and far between for Neighbors. Mostly the film keeps all the actors working in their usual boundaries. I think this helped in making whatever message the film was going for even less important.
That being said, I still think there is a certain charm in the film in its laid back attitude even if it resulted in something that is probably unmemorable and lacking in any big themes. The improvising that is done by many of the actors is hilarious and made its way to the best points of the film. Speaking of which, all of the performances are great. Seth Rogen is still a very funny lead and Zac Efron and Rose Byrne add a layer of intensity and excitement to the story in how energetic there performances were. With a lesser cast, this movie most certainly would’ve failed but because it has such a creative and fun cast, I think the film ultimately works as a fun popcorn film. Many of the scenes of the film also do work like the Robert De Niro party or the visit to the doctor.
This is one of the shortest and weakest movie reviews I’ve ever written for a movie. Is Neighbors poorly structured? Yes. Is it forgettable? Yes. It is mildly enjoyable? Yes. Neighbors is the perfect Redbox viewing with funny scenes and great performances. The film has problems but it is also fun and charming in the most kicked back way possible. Leave your brain at the door.
Release Date: 4/4/2014
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller