Sunday, May 11, 2014

Not the Neighbors We'd Want, But They Sure Are Funny as Hell: Our Review of "Neighbors" (2014)

Directed By: Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco

Rating: R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout

Run Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

Synopsis: Mac and Kelly (Rogen and Byrne) are new parents and recently bought their first house. Not soon after a fraternity moves in next door and Mac and Kelly decide to try and be the cool neighbors to Teddy (Efron), the frat's president, in an effort to keep their noise down. But after calling the cops on them and betraying Teddy's trust, a full-on war breaks out between the exhausted parents and the frats brothers next door.


Andrew: Hello dear readers! Last night Sarah and I caught this weekend's new big comedy release, Neighbors, starring Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as a pair of new parents who must deal with a fraternity that moves in next door led by Zac Efron's hard-partying frat president.

Neighbors is the new film from director Nicholas Stoller who has helmed a couple of our favorite comedies, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and and The Five-Year Engagement, so when you add that together with our fandom of Seth Rogen and the fact that we thought the trailers were hilarious, it's not an understatement to say we've been looking forward to this one for a while.

Now that we've seen Neighbors, Sarah, what did you think of it?

Sarah: I really had some good laughs in this movie! I'm not going to lie, I had pretty high expectations for this movie. I was expecting nothing but belly laughs and I was not let down. I love a good house party movie and I think this one fits in with the likes of Old School and House Bunny. I loved Seth Rogen of course but I LOVED Zac Efron in this movie! He was so funny but at the same time was a pretty deep character. And that delivery! Dare I say he's kind of following in the footsteps of Channing Tatum? Looks AND humor?

A: I think you might be on to something! Efron was phenomenal as Teddy, the president of the Delta Psi fraternity, because he absolutely nailed all the aspects of what his character could be. He's a dumb, muscular frat bro who's sole aim in his college life is to throw the biggest party in his frat's history, but he hits these other notes where if he feels hurt by someone's actions you actually kinda feel for him, or when he starts to realize his future is up in the air you sympathize with him a bit. But he's also hilarious. He's never been high on my list but after this comedic turn he's certainly someone to watch out for now.

Along with Efron, I actually think that Rose Byrne was the most interesting character in the film and thought she was hilarious as well. What did you think of Byrne in this movie?

S: I was really surprised by her performance! I mean, I know she can be a mean girl, from Bridesmaids,  and I know she can play a good law enforcement agent, from X-Men: First Class, but this really took her comedic chops to the next level. She was witty and really played off Rogen perfectly. 

I really liked that they kept her Australian accent in the movie, too. I think she is much funnier when she can be more herself. She also had this great way of playing the first-time mom and being the funny wife that has nothing wrong with sabotage. There were times when she was really showing some vulnerability over having to stay at home and feeling a little unfulfilled. 

A: That's a good point about not only being funny but being able to convincingly portray the new stay-at-home mom. I think what I enjoyed most about her performance (other than her Australian accent) was that the filmmakers made her an equal with Rogen and Efron. I mean, she's legitimately one of the three leads, not just a supporting character. She easily could've been the exasperated wife who has to deal with her husband getting into a turf war with the frat guys, but she actually takes charge in the shenanigans a number of times. I thought that was excellent. And Byrne was very strong in taking that role.

I mean, when you think about it, other than The Other Woman that came out a few weeks ago, when was the last strong female comedy performance in theatres? The Heat, right? And before that? Bridesmaids? And all 3 of those movies did very well at the box office, but they've been few and far between. 

S: They really have been. But, to be fair, they are a little more prevalent than they used to be. And I think we will continue to see more of these movies with strong leads. Byrne fits in perfectly. I am so glad to see her in a leading role this time instead of the supporting lady, which she has been up until now. 

We had a lot of raunchy humor in this movie but do you think it was too much?

A: Not at all. In fact, other than some quick flashes of nudity during a the big climactic party, I really didn't think the raunchiness in this film was THAT much worse than what was in The Other Woman. Granted, The Other Woman was more scatilogical stuff and this was very heavy in dick jokes and stuff, but it certainly wasn't too much. There is a scene involving breast-pumping that I suppose is relatively graphic nudity-wise, but they're clearly not real breasts so other than that the nudity isn't even that over-the-top.

Speaking about those naughty-part jokes though, another strong aspect of this movie was the supporting cast (who a lot of those jokes are made at the expense of). Along with Efron I thought Dave Franco as his vice president (and actually smart, caring college student) was pretty good here. And neither of us is a big fan of either Franco brother. He was a good contrast to Efron's Teddy while also being very complimentary. And while their roles were pretty small, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Jerrod Carmichael were pretty funny as other frat brothers. And then there's the quick cameos...

S: Well, I have to give it to Franco, he wasn't in it enough to really piss me off too much. I just…can't stand the sound of his voice. And even though Mintz-Plasse didn't have too many lines, because it would have given away the fact that he's like 30, his huge, ummm, endowment jokes were pretty funny. 

And those cameos…they were AMAZING! I mean, I feel like we shouldn't give away who they were but it was pretty genius. I just love how actors can call up their actor buddies and get them to be in movies and it not be a big deal. I was actually surprised it wasn't the normal Rogen crew, Weren't you? 

A: I little bit! I was fully expecting to see some of his crew from This Is The End or his Apatow buddies, but Dave Franco was about the closest we got to that. Which might actually have been for the better, honestly. Let's talk about Rogen real quick, how does this rank in his filmography?

S: So, I saw a noticeable shift in his character. Five years ago, Rogen would have played the frat guy. Now, he's all about the more senior role, where he plays the slightly more responsible character. Let's be honest, it's still Seth Rogen so we still get his antics but there is something more…dare I say mature about his performances?

A: It's absolutely more mature. This is the 2nd film he's made where he's dealt with having a child and whereas the first one, Knocked Up, dealt with his stoner character having to shape up because he's going to be a father, this one dealt more with him already being a more mature, married and working father who's looking to protect his family but delves a little bit into his college days to do so. 

It's very different but somehow still in the same vein. More than anything is that the film draws its comedy from him being this thirty-something dad, like how he and Rose Byrne get too exhausted trying to get the baby ready to take to a rave that they never even make it out the door. Speaking of the baby, we haven't even mentioned how fricking cute the baby in this movie is, or babies I should say since it was a pair of twins.

S: Oh my gosh she was SO fricking cute! Unbelievably cute. I couldn't handle it. 

Okay, so I really enjoyed Neighbors. It was so different and I really appreciated that. It took Rogen's humor to a whole new level and I think it's pretty awesome. I really enjoyed this movie and laughed a lot, which I think means the goal was met. Final thoughts for you?

A: I thought it was hilarious. Tons of belly laughs and just like This Is The End I laughed so much that there I'm positive I missed a bunch of jokes, so this is definitely worth a re-watch and most likely a purchase. Strong all-around cast, strong writing, and so many of the little things hit including when Efron's Teddy feels betrayed by Rogen and Byrne's Mac and Kelly and the distraught look he has just kills me. He's legit upset.

Also, I quickly wanted to point out that I like how Neighbors only clocks in at 96 minutes. That's amazing in this day and age when these kinds of Apatowian comedies have routinely been longer than 2 hours. To be slightly fair, Stoller's 3 previous directorial efforts only average a run time of 114 minutes, but The Five-Year Engagement was 124 minutes long. Neighbors by comparison is brisk and is the perfect length.

Okay, what's our final verdict on Neighbors?

S: It falls sturdily into the category of This Is The End and Bridesmaids. It's hilarious yet heartwarming. I'm so glad that we went and saw this one in the theaters.

FINAL VERDICT: A must-see in theatres!

(Individual Scores - S: 4/5  A: 4.5/5)

Photo Courtesy: Amazon

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