The previews for this movie have been pretty hardcore, and if you’ve watched the red band trailers, you know it promises to be not only raunchy but filthy. The film does not disappoint. In a good way.
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne star as the couple with a new baby and a new house who are just getting to used to being responsible adults when a fraternity moves in next door. The frat, led by Zac Efron and Dave Franco, seem to be fun and friendly at first, but they are a fraternity – an organization of college men known for pranks, hazing, immeasurable intoxication of all varieties, and loud, crowded parties.
This movie takes neighbor-feuding to a completely unprecedented level. It’s not just vying for the best Christmas decorations or playing “Ditch the Doorbell” with a flaming bag of dog shit. This is hardcore them-or-us war over who gets to stay in the neighborhood.
Part of the biggest complaint about comedies is that the trailers have a nasty habit of giving away all the funniest parts so when you get to the theater, the rest of the movie is painfully slow or dull. Neighbors is not like that, and I watched all three trailers I found – the one approved for most audiences and the two red bands I found. It has plenty more laughs where those trailers came from!
While much of movie is gross-out, slapstick, drug-related and sex-infused comedy with condoms, giant exercise balls, stolen airbags, and dildos used as props, it makes for an extremely funny movie. And, as an added bonus, we get a couple scenes with the always funny Lisa Kudrow who plays the sort of laissez-faire dean of the frat’s college.
Aside from the laughs, what I liked best about the movie was that you can sympathize with both the frat and the family and see what both sides have at stake. Both sides go way too far with the pranks in more than one instance, and the movie shows the realities and fears that both sets of characters face, but not in a downer way.
The other thing I liked was that the female lead wasn’t the uptight, get-your-shit-together hardass complaining about the guy(s) in her life. (For example, Stu’s obnoxious, controlling girlfriend (Rachael Harris) in The Hangover, or to an extent, Frank’s wife in Old School.) These woman always seem to want to crush their man’s spirit in a spiteful way rather than a responsible way. But here, Rose Byrne’s character, Kelly, is super-awesome. She does take things too far at times, just like the rest of the people in the movie, but that’s part of what makes her likeable. She is more realistic as a character. She’s a new mom, still adjusting to spending time at home with a young child instead of going to work. She and Mac (Rogen) are still growing up, and they need to get some of that young, carefree couple feeling out of their system.
In spite of the initial appearance of Efron’s character Teddy being the superficial asshole frat leader who has no interest in anything beyond the next party, there is a little bit of depth there that’s hard to explain. He has his own problems, and his neighbors aren’t the biggest ones on his plate. Which brings me to another thing I liked about the movie: it’s not completely predictable and doesn’t completely fall apart at the end when everything comes to a head. (I know there’s a sex pun in there with all the dildos and everything else in the movie, but I’ll leave this one alone.)
Technically, the protagonists, Kelly and Mac, “win” in the end, but once the movie ended, it really didn’t seem like the story was about winning or losing. The deeper focus of the story is that Teddy, Rose, and Mac all had to grow up, and their competition with each other over who got to stay in their respective house was just a means of arriving at that realization, and ultimately, it was the catalyst which helped them all achieve that maturation. (Can I use a semi-big word like “maturation” in a review about a raunchy adult comedy? Whatever. It’s done. Deal with it.)
*Possible spoiler over.*
That said, this is not a “deep” comedy. It doesn’t have the weight of an indie comedy like Little Miss Sunshine or even Bad Words, but it was a blast, completely hilarious the entire way through!
Proving that grown-up, married people can be just as funny as single college kids, Neighbors is a riotous, prank-ridden brawl for suburban sovereignty underlying a twisted journey to adulthood.
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