Neighbors (2014): Movie Review

Neighbors Official Poster – Universal Pictures Copyright

The last time I laughed this hard was probably for one of the better “Hangover” movies. In “Neighbors” (2014) Zac Efron (Teddy Sanders) and Seth Rogan (Mac Radner) team up to throw you a bash that is nothing short of epic.

Efron’s performance is solid; and his intentional flaunting of his own chiseled physique only adds to fuel the mild envy of the audience. After hearing the calls for Seth Rogan to take on a different role from all his ever similar movies—especially audible from the meta-criticisms hurled by his fellow cast members in “This Is the End” (2013)—we see this manifest, somewhat. While different from the typical “Pineapple Express” (2008) type roles he usually puts on, he hasn’t exactly diverged from his stoner days altogether. Here he is more of a husband stoner, really, as the remnants from his foggy days still cling to him like a smoker’s breath. It really is Rose Byrne (Kelly Radner) who blindsides us all with her laugh-out-loud comic chops. Her infectious Aussie accent coupled with her quirky lines and slapstick stunts give her character some well-earned comedic respect.

Directed by Nicholas Stoller, and written by Andrew Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, the plot is as follows: A young suburban couple just moved into a perfect neighborhood and plan on fitting into their quintessential yuppie lifestyle and age happily ever after into the American Dream until—the Greeks descend! Yes, of course, next to them in move a fraternity led by the alpha stud Efron and his henchmen, with their Delta, Beta, Gamma letter cutouts and all.

Commons – Wikipedia

It’s an intellectually non-taxing comedy, rolled tight with reams of slapstick humor. Sometimes it gets so ridiculous, and so outrageous, that we don’t even question the logic because the thunderous waves of laughter ram the theater and fill in for all the lack of reason. Interestingly, the movie tiptoes along the border of the generational divide, swaying between Generation X and Generation Y by picking two age groups of characters who are not too far apart from another: so much so that they almost recognize themselves in one another. It briefly stumbles into the terrain of seriousness, however, when it reflects on the brevity of college life and that lifestyle—that the frat’s lifespan is as short as the major that sustains it. For those who think otherwise, they are in for a rude awakening as with the case of Teddy.

Commons – Wikimedia

As with any fraternity-type movie the need to play on male homoerotic desire is high, and that card is well erected, stretching all throughout the movie and then doused with typical college accompaniments of binge drinking, pledges, rush, sex and all that good college stuff. Scene after scene the movie builds up well, from funny to funnier, with a plot line that knows oh too well how to steer away from stupid.

Rogan’s dopey antics and Efron’s self obsessed airheaded mantra huddle  at the core of this movie. Around this nucleus, the story is secured by the awkward bandwagon cast seen by the likes of the bumbling Ike Barinholtz (Jimmy); the dashing Dave Franco (Pete)—who injects the lessons learnt tingle of the movie; and the gorgeous Halston Sage (Brooke) who literally appears to be the living embodiment of every jock’s dream girl.

I loved this movie mostly because it was all good fun. It was laugh out loud college humor with a good looking bunch that can be aesthetically appealing and still not too dumb to not tell you a good story. For this and more “Neighbors” graduates with first class honors with an 8.8/10. Adieu.

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