Film Review – Neighbors (2014)
With the comedy Keeping Up With The Joneses due out this weekend, I thought it be fun to review another movie where questionable neighbors move in next door: Neighbors! As always, this review will be spoiler free.
Neighbors is directed by Nicholas Stoller and stars Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne along with Zac Efron and Dave Franco. Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) have a newly born baby girl and move into their brand new home ready to start their lives as parents. However, their hope and optimism quickly fades as a fraternity from a local college purchases the home next door. As you can imagine, hi-jinx ensue as the two sides struggle to keep the power in their neighborhood.
I’ve always loved Seth Rogen and his comedy team. Their brand of comedy is equally parts witty and ridiculously crass. His previous effort, This Is The End, was arguably one of my favorite movies of 2013. The concept of every actor playing a heightened version of themselves while surviving the apocalypse is funny enough, but the execution was devilishly good.
Rogen is great at combining equal parts self-deprication, wit, and gross out gags. Some make the argument that he constantly plays himself in movies. Hell, this is probably true, but damn is he hilarious every time. Nicholas Stoller is also another favorite of mine. The movie that put him on the map, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, is equal parts hilarious and thoughtful. Needless to say, with this team involved, I was very excited for this movie.
What I Liked
When you watch Neighbors, get ready for more of the same from Rogen and friends which, personally, led to a very enjoyable ride. Rogen brings his typical comedic chops throughout this movie and does a very solid job of even being the straight man to the fraternity’s funny men. However, the biggest surprises of the movie come from Rose Byrne and Zac Efron. Before Neighbors, Rose Byrne did not have many predominant comedic roles, but she absolutely nails it in this movie. She not only holds her own playing off the comedic timing of Rogen, but even steals a couple scenes.
Zac Efron was also a revelation. Until this movie, Efron still had the stigma of being the guy from High School Musical in my mind, failing to break out in any other role. But Neighbors allows Efron to perform in his comfort zone by still being the popular, attractive guy, which gives him the opportunity to just absolutely let loose with ridiculous humor in which he does not disappoint. He plays so well off of Rogen and displays a surprising amount of comedic timing, something that I did not think he could do.
What I Didn’t Like
However (and this tends to be the case with a lot of Rogen movies), there are some lulls in the humor in the middle of the story. A lot of Rogen movies tend to hit you with a ton of jokes right away, then stray away from gust-busting humor to set up story lines, then hit you again with jokes at the end. While it is admirable for a comedy to set to try to set up some type of story line with some dramatic heft or weight to it, the ultimate goal of a comedy is to make me laugh, which this movie fails to accomplish at times.
That being said, Neighbors has many very memorable scenes and gags (most notably a fight sequence during the climax) which more than make up for the scenes that do not hit. I really appreciate the chemistry of the actors in Neighbors. Any comedy is practically destined to fail without a solid bond between the cast. The casting for the members of the fraternity was top notch, leading to a really fun versus conflict of Rogen and Byrne against the fraternity.
Overall, Neighbors is a super funny, memorable comedy that falls a few gust-busting laughs short of a classic. For these reasons, I will give Neighbors a B+.
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Now the focus shifts to you. What do you think of Neighbors? What should I review next? Whether it’s old or new, the choice is up to you!