When it comes to comedies, attend with caution if you have seen the trailer is the natural thing to do. It is no secret that comedy trailers tend to give away the best jokes and ruin part of the fun. Avoidance is generally necessary as to enjoy the film as much as possible, and while NEIGHBORS does have some revealing spoilers, it does not take away from the film as a whole because it is enjoyable despite the gags.
NEIGHBORS is without a doubt a Seth Rogen film, he stars and he came up with the concept and serves as producer. His brand of humor is seen throughout the film, if you aren’t a fan you may not get on board however if you are this is definitely the film for you. The story here is about married couple Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne), who have a new baby and have just purchased their first house. Not long after they move in, right next door is also for sale and gets picked up by a local fraternity led by Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco). The jealousy from Mac and Kelly runs through their veins as they want to desperately live like they were young and carefree but know they can’t, as they try to deal with the partying frat house. After a party gets too noisey, they decide to call the cops, which does not sit well with Teddy as they promised him they wouldn’t. This one event causes all out war between the neighbouring houses.
At its core, NEIGHBORS is a film about growing up. The couple are coming to terms with having a baby and being forced to grow up. They can’t quite accept everything that comes with having to look after a baby all the time and they do want to go out and party. The frat coming in does cause these issues to come right at the front, they can’t help but be confronted by it and they need to make the decision. At the same time the frat boys are young and living care free, but as some of the older guys are in their last year their future is staring at them. Teddy and Pete might be best friends but they have different priorities, Teddy is scared of what’s to come and Pete is well on his way to a successful future. The feud these two have is really about their own fears and insecurities, something you may not pick up on between gags and laughs, but it is cleverly put in there and does offer some interesting insights.
The comedy aspect works very well, the gags range from all sorts, silly jokes, sight gags, gross out humour and the Seth Rogen trademark … dick jokes (and there are loads). It is silly enough to work, but not too over the top to crash and burn. There is a really great balance between the humour, and each of the actors do their fair share to make it happen naturally. The dick jokes do get a little repetitive, but it isn’t as bad as THIS IS THE END. The humour does also depend on the individuals own humour, it will live or die by your own tastes. It fitted my tastes perfectly and a ball was had while cackling in my chair.
Acting wise, everyone really does deliver the goods. Seth Rogen is playing another version of himself, Mac isn’t a stretch for him but he is a likeable character. He is that goofy teddy bear, however something felt different here. Perhaps it was the very charming and truthful relationship his character has with Kelly, and the chemistry with Rose Byrne that really worked. They played off each other very well and made for a believable couple. Mac isn’t as much of a loser as other Rogen characters, he’s got a job and does work! Rose Byrne works well in comedies (unless it’s I GIVE IT A YEAR) and she did a very good job here. Zac Efron continues to move well away from HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL and proves once again he’s an extremely talented actor with a definite gift for comedy. Dave Franco continues to look and sound like his brother but he is an entity all of his own. Again he’s got a talent for comedy and he has a some great scenes (his Fockers scene is legend). The two babies who played Mac and Kelly’s daughter was adorable, what a scene stealer she was!
NEIGHBORS is a very successful comedy, not perfect but it does get close. It suffers a few flaws, the third act feels a little lost but finds its feet again. Sometimes the motivations of the characters don’t entirely make sense, but it makes for good comedy and can easily be forgiven. Nicholas Stoller is definitely one to watch for this genre, he’s had some very successful films with FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL and THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGMENT and with this plus his writing work things are looking up for him. If you are after a good fun time at the movies, this is the one to see.