Neighbors tells the story of Mac and Kelly Radner (played by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) who are a couple in their young 30’s with a new house and a new baby. Though they miss going out and staying out late with friends to a certain degree they also are very happy with their new life as parents. Then a wrench is thrown into their lives in the way of a frat that moves in next door.
At first Mac and Kelly want to appear cool to the college kids rather than come off as the “uncool old couple” but it quickly becomes apparent that due to the excessive loud partying of the frat that the two houses will have a hard time co-existing. This first comes to a head when Mac tries to anonymously call in a complaint to the police only to have it backfire when it’s not only revealed that he was the one who called but also that he and his wife had partied with the frat the night before.
Thus a battle between the two houses breaks out with the frat doing everything it can to make Mac and Kelly’s life hell, while Mac and Kelly attempt to get the frat out of their lives.
Going into this film I’m a pretty big Nick Stoller fan, whom directed this film. He’s written Get Him to the Greek, Five Year Engagement, The Muppets Movie and Fun With Dick and Jane which I felt were all solid films. He also directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek, The Five Year Engagement and now Neighbors. So I certainly felt he had established a certain comedic pedigree as of late.
At the same time I would put myself in the category of being a fan of the majority of Seth Rogen films, thus my interest in this movie.
The film itself starts rather light in terms of laughs. I don’t mean that there are rarely laughs to be had at the beginning of the film but the laughs that are there are more like light chuckles.
The film escalates these to full blown laugh out loud moments as the film progresses and starts to set it’s own comedy bar a little higher with each punchline and gag. From a comedy standpoint I would consider the film to be consistent throughout with varying forms of laughs coming from start to finish.
There were a few hiccups in the film though that affected the overall quality a tad though. Story wise I felt that things could have been cleaned up a bit to make things flow a little smoother. It seemed silly to have the feuding groups to go back and forth between friendly and unfriendly multiple times throughout the film since the bulk of the bigger laughs are built on the basis of them feuding. In fact going by the previews you would think that was the main plot point of the film, so it seemed to create unnecessary downtime with the bigger laughs.
There was also a couple of instances of questionable editing I felt during the film where a scene seemed to jump to the next rather than smoothly transition. A lot of this I believe were due to the cuts that were made to get the runtime down to your typical 90 minutes.
There also were multiple pieces from their early trailers that weren’t in the final product, which is normal practice but in some cases the alternate version didn’t seem as strong. I think my biggest problem with the cuts is I don’t necessarily feel as if they helped the final product, in fact I’d say it slightly hindered it. While watching certain scenes I couldn’t help but feel as if there were things trimmed and changed not to make a more concise film but to be able to market an “Unrated and Uncut” Blu-Ray/DVD version which in my opinion will be the definitive version of the film.
A perfect example of this is the infamous scene where the baby finds a condom and Mac and Kelly rush her to the hospital. While I won’t spoil the brief dialog from the film it was greatly cut down in the final version and took out one of the bigger gag lines from the trailer in which the doctor gave the condom back to the couple in case they wanted to use it.
Edits like these seemed unnecessary and because it shortened the scene so much it caused it to abruptly end leading to one of the instances in which I didn’t feel there was a smooth transition at all from one scene to the next.
The performances from the core four characters were all great. Seth Rogen is a more relaxed version of himself in the film but it works with the character of Mac who is trying to walk that fine line of being a semi-responsible parent while also being cool.
Rose Byrne really shines in another comedic role as Kelly. Her protective nature when she feels her family has been threatened leads to some great moments with Kelly putting together some truly awesome plots to take down the frat.
Zac Efron truly shines as the President of the frat Teddy and shows that he can more than pull his own weight in a R rated comedy role. Dave Franco plays the Vice President of the frat Pete and continues to follow his brother’s footsteps with his comedic portrayals.
The supporting cast does a decent job though the majority of their characters aren’t fleshed out but they more than server their purpose. Ike Barinholtz takes over as a mid movie MVP in terms of the support characters though with his portrayal of Jimmy.
By the time the end credits roll on Neighbors you feel as if you had some good laughs and your money was well spent assuming you are a fan of this type of comedy.
Neighbors gets a three out of five: GOOD.
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