Directed by Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
What do you get if you combine Animal House, Pineapple Express, and Three Men and a Baby? You get Neighbors, of course, starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron. I’m a little in love with Seth Rogen. He’s a big, funny teddy bear, who seems to get more endearing with every movie. Zac Efron, or as I like to call him Zaqueshia (because he’s just too pretty), has never been one of my favorites. At face value, this movie seems to be just formulaic Hollywood stoner, slapstick crap. But since contributor Zach Martin hated it, and editor in chief Stephen Lackey liked it, I’ll give it the “old college try,” and see what happens.
We start with new parents Mac (Efron) and Kelly (Byrne). They have just bought a sweet little starter home in the burbs, and like most new parents that I know, are still trying to hold onto a shred of “coolness.” One night, a friend calls and tells them to come to a huge concert and just bring the baby. Mac and Kelly decide that they need to have a night out and decide that they are taking baby Sella to have “baby’s first rage.” The two start packing up a diaper bag, which turns into bringing the stroller, which turns into bringing a cooler, and so on and so forth. Eventually, the two fall asleep while trying to get everything together. I have to say that I love these two together. Not only do they have a wonderful chemistry, but I feel like I know them. I feel like Mac and Kelly are my friends. Not to mention that Byrne is so much fun to watch in this movie. Rogen almost becomes the straight man to her neurotic, crazy new mommy, and it works beautifully. I pledge my undying allegiance to you now, Rose.
But surprise surprise, the next day they find that new neighbors are moving in… a fraternity, led by Teddy (Efron). Efron stays shirtless for most of the movie, and it’s brilliant. One, it’s a funny running gag, and two, watching him shirtless is in a word, fantastical. At one point of the movie Rogen says, “Your torso is like a giant arrow pointing to your penis.” (I might paraphrase for language, though.) Mac and Kelly first decide that they’re cool enough to make friends with the fraternity and even happen upon one of their parties. But paradise cannot last. Obviously, you can’t have a fraternity house next to a couple with a baby. That baby will never sleep and that will suck for everyone. Mac and Kelly can’t stop the parties and Teddy can’t stop the “old people” from ruining their fun. An all out war is waged.
I’m sure that what comes next, is what had many grossed out, turned off, or whatever, but I loved all of the slap stick, gross out gags. Honestly, this kind of humor is either for you or not for you. But Stoller, known mostly for his writing/ directing collaborations with Jason Segal (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), handles everything with a delicate bro touch, always going 110% for each gross out gag, but then going right back to the heart of the movie.
I also really enjoyed the performances. Rogen was a delightful bafoon as always. Byrne, like I said before, was fantastical and did an amazing job of not just keeping up with the boys, but being one of my favorites in the film. Mintz-Plasse, whom I still refer to as McLovin, has grown up in this role, playing the very, VERY well endowed and hilarious Scoonie. I didn’t even recognize Mintz-Plasse for half of the film because of his grown up demeanor. But the most surprising in this film is Efron. I never really liked him much, thinking that he was just a pretty face, resting on his Disney Channel fame. I now retract my previous statements about Efron. He was really good in this movie. Now, he’s not getting an Oscar anytime soon, but he played this movie like Channing Tatum. Channing Tatum knows his strengths and isn’t ashamed or afraid to play to them. Efron spends half the movie playing on his insanely good looks, and the other half relying on his great comedic timing. Seriously, this guy had some great comedic beats.
I would totally watch this movie again. It was seriously entertaining, with some big laugh out loud, and dare I say it, snorting moments. It’s not the most brilliant piece of film that I’ve ever seen, nor the most original, but it’s fun. And honestly, with all of the crap that’s out there right now, that’s ALL I can ask for… that and Efron without his shirt on for most of the duration of the film.
The video was pretty darn good, nice colors and picture quality. I could see every muscle in Zac Efron’s stomach… and lack thereof in Seth Rogan’s stomach. Rogen said that he gained weight for this role because he knew that it would make the film funnier. Oh, what we do for our art! I do appreciate all of the different filters and such when the boys were flashing back on all of the great things that their fraternity has done, like when they used a nice old school filter for when the fraternity invented the toga party at the turn of the century.
Audio was great as well. Nothing too out of the ordinary. The soundtrack was pretty decent. Everything that I would expect from a film like this, but no gems that really stood out like the hilariously cheesy and out of place “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” by the Backstreet Boys in This Is The End or relatively unknown song, but still a butt kicker “Left 3ye” by Kreyshawn in The Heat. I’ve just come to expect a smidgeon more from the people that bring us movies like this.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The cover art for this film is good. It’s a great poster with Rogen on one side and Efron on the other, distilling the film down to it’s essence- old versus young. The back art is nice as well. Nothing huge to write home about but nice. The bonus features are killer though. There are loads of behind the scenes footage, deleted/alternate scenes, and some commentary. And I loved it all. Usually with films like this, I find myself getting bored or grossed out by all of the extra footage, but with this film, I couldn’t get enough! They cut out one of the fraternity flash backs. It was a whole bit where they talk about how their fraternity created a whole bunch of things that fraternities are known for now, like toga parties, beer pong, etc. They cut out the wet T-Shirt contest scene, which takes place in the 1950’s when the leaky roof soaked a whole bunch of “Betty’s” shirts. The behind the scenes footage is awesome as well. They went in depth about how they came to the right size for Scoonie’s penis and using the fake appendage during filming. The bonus features were just as good if not better than the film itself.
Overall (Not an Average)
Coming of age comedies. There’s certainly no shortage of them in Hollywood, but usually they are about a child or a teenager. There is a shortage of coming of age stories for grown ups. And no, I’m not suggesting that all people over the age of 25 need to “Grow Up and Settle Down,” but rather become whoever they were meant to be and be comfortable with and own whoever they want to be. This is the story of Neighbors. It’s got the slap-stick of a frat-boy movie mixed with the heart of a coming of age story, and it’s really nice. And as long as you dig the kind of humor this movie dishes out, you’re gonna dig this movie. If you don’t… then you’re probably a socially awkward, elitist Bronie.*
*I don’t think that everyone who doesn’t like this movie is a socially awkward elitist Bronie… that’s a jab at fellow CultureSmash.tv contributor Zach Martin.