Neighbors (movie review)
I enjoyed Neighbors. It’s not exactly the greatest comedy of all time, yet it’ll probably be the best comedy of this year. (And yes, I do have a calendar, and I am aware it’s only May.) I feel that I often prattle on forever about little details that most folks probably don’t care about, so, in the interest of coming to the point before I completely murder you with words, here are my blurb and score for Neighbors.
BLURB: While it’s not an especially memorable comedy, Neighbors is an effective and entertaining movie. It’s at 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, but I’m a little bit higher (see what I did there?!?) at 7.5 out of 10.
Now that I got that out of the way, let’s dig in and talk about what’s working and what’s not so good.
I loved the performances in this movie. Zac Efron, Seth Rogen, Dave Franco, Rose Byrne… everyone is great in this. I don’t know much about Efron, but I’ve seen him in two movies now and the dude has legit talent. If the picture isn’t working, it’s probably not Efron’s fault. Meanwhile, Rogen is doing what he always does, but that’s fine with me – he’s great at it. To use a baseball metaphor, you wouldn’t try to turn Derek Jeter into a power pull hitter, so let’s have everybody do what they’re best at. I also haven’t seen Franco the Younger in many movies, but he does a fine job in this – my favorite bit of delivery in the entire show was probably his, “You’re a good actor!” That worked for me on so many levels…
And finally, we come to Rose Byrne… I have seen the future, and it is called BYRNE! She might not always be in great movies, but she always gives a great performance. I love what they gave her in this movie, and now that I’ve seen her in several different roles, I’m convinced she can do anything. BYRNE BABY BYRNE!
Neighbors is a fairly static movie, but Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek) does a great job at coming up with strong visuals. He really does more with less – there are no forests or canyons, no natural disasters or epic tragedies, it just kinda is what it is, but Stoller still finds a way to make things look interesting.
There are some pacing issues here… the first act is kinda long (or rather, it feels longer than it is), but the movie is under 100 minutes, so there’s not much to complain about in the length department. I wasn’t a big fan of the air bags – it felt like someone at the studio demanded a big visual gag and this is what they came up with. It just felt too cartoony for this movie. Sure, the end is silly, but the violence doesn’t seem especially cartoony. On the other hand, launching people into a ceiling seems like too much, and I just don’t think that the Franco and Efron characters would steal air bags from a lady’s car, especially when she’s driving a baby around. Also, if someone holding the baby sat in the armchair that was set with the air bag… bye bye baby. I appreciate that they dropped in the scene to illustrate they didn’t booby trap the crib, but we already knew all the airbags were used by that point, anyway… meh.
I know Rogen’s character was supposed to be childish, but it’s hard to imagine that the devoted husband and father would be smoking weed at work… I didn’t buy that. I also can’t imagine that guy breaking someone’s water pipe in the middle of the day. What if someone saw him? That’s a huge risk to take when you’re the sole breadwinner for your family and, again, I don’t think his character would do that. The crazy friend should have carried out that attack without Rogen and Byrne’s consent.
I didn’t buy that the frat guys bought off the other neighbors with various favors, but at least they addressed issue. Again, not buying it, but at least they addressed it. Also, why didn’t the frat try to buy off Rogen and Byrne? By, say, soundproofing their house? Or at least the baby’s room…
Oh, and some knucklehead tried to drag this movie into the Santa Barbara shooting – that’s just crazy. People go on rampages because they’re nuts, not because they saw several movies which somehow created a sense of that which they feel they are entitled to in life, no matter what someone’s manifesto says. That’s bonkers, like Fight Club bonkers in a “We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.” That is not the way reasonable people behave in society – “TV and movies lied to me, so I get to take it out on whoever and it’s the entertainment industry’s responsibility.” That’s ridiculous. I’ve seen a lot of Seth Rogen movies, and I assure you – that dude’s art might make you eat cookies, but that’s as far as it goes.
Anyway, Neighbors is a quality comedy worth seeing. If the trailer even remotely interested you, definitely check this one out.