Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Neighbors Review

Well... this is a surprise. I don't think that anyone was betting that this movie would get $51.1 million in its opening weekend. Like, no one at all. There was even less of a chance of it to dethrone The Amazing Spider-Man 2 after only one week in the U.S. Just, let that sink in for a bit. A multi-million dollar blockbuster that was completely funded by a major global corporation that was released around the world... has lost to a small budget comedy about frats and family. We live in a strange world. What's even stranger is that, I'm kind of thankful for it.

Neighbors is about a married couple, played by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, who have a baby and movie into a new house in a nice quiet suburban neighborhood. However, they soon have to deal with new neighbors that move in across the street, which just so happens to be a frat called Delta Psi, known infamously for their insane parties. At first Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne go over to make sure that they won't be too loud at night, because they want their baby to sleep, but eventually things get too out of control for both of them, leading to an epic war with the frat house's president Teddy, played by Zac Efron, to get the frat to finally leave the neighborhood.

This movie boils down to a giant prank war between the two parties, and its quite satisfying to watch as well. Each side has a whole array of various tricks and schemes that they inflict on each other, like using airbags, destroying water pipes, synthetic dildos, and even fireworks. Of course we're always on the side of the people who want their baby to sleep, but both sides use horrible tricks and pranks to accomplish what they need to and it makes everyone look ridiculous, but in a good way. You kind of have to laugh when a person sits down in a chair and an airbag shoots them straight into the sky.

"It's like if a gay man designed him in a lab!"
But the gags stretch out from being just related to the prank war between Teddy and the family, with a few good scenes involving just Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen, like when Rose needs to breast feed her baby because she's over lactated. The results are absolute hilarity and filled with all of the cow puns you could ever ask for. But that scene is a good summation of the movie's real sense of humor though. It balances itself between outrageous gags and situations while simultaneously being witty and sharp. Or witty might be going a bit too far with the humor, maybe just stupid puns, but even then it doesn't fit the idea of what stupid puns are. When I think of stupid puns, I think of cheesy kids movies that need a quick laugh with no buildup or payoff. Here, there are puns, but they have a point to them.

Speaking of having a point, there's a really good emotional core to this movie as well that has you sympathize with both sides. Of course we can sympathize with Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne wanting their baby to sleep and having a happy family, but Teddy also turns into a sympathetic villain at the same time. He's a man who lives in the moment, for better or worse, and fears that eventually he'll become old like Seth Rogen and no longer have his charm and appeal, which is all he has going for him. Zac Efron, whether you like him or not, is a good actor and does a really good job in this movie. In fact, I would say that we can finally stop associating him with the abysmal High School Musical movies and the teenage dream idea into a cool, if not unpolished actor. We'll probably be seeing a lot more of him in the coming years, so you better get used to it.

You wanna know what else is refreshing about this movie? It's short. We live in an age where the average movie now is about two hours long give or take, whether the movie needs those two hours or not. I may have like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but I certainly don't feel it needed to be over two hours long. It's nice to have a modest movie with a modest size, modest cast, and just be modest in its production overall. It knows what to focus on and what to do and doesn't try to complicate the formula. In the beginning, there's a scene with Seth Rogen's boss who looks like he's going to be a boss that wants to get really involved in Seth Rogen's life outside of work and be his friend, despite being the definition of an old guy trying to be cool. But the movie never goes down that route and we only see his character twice in the whole movie. The movie focuses on what it needs to focus on and trims the fat.

Yay for raves!
If I can be perfectly blunt, 2014 has sucked for movies so far. This year has just been filled with wasted potential and mediocre content to the point of frustration. I will eventually be seeing Robocop, but from what I've heard it's painfully average and misses the point of the character. Nothing has justified me thinking that this was a good year for movies and one or two good movies does not justify an entire year. This is the movie though that has given me hope for the summer season, since if we can keep getting movies along these levels of quality, movies that know what they are doing and are good at it, then that would be great and I will take back everything I just said about this year.

Neighbors isn't going to redefine the comedy, but it takes the solid foundation of movies like American Pie and essentially every Seth Rogen movie ever into a nice hybrid. If I could equate Neighbors to a sandwich, it would be a turkey grilled cheese sandwich. It's gooey and delicious, if not a bit simple, but it's a grilled cheese sandwich, you know what you were going to get anyway. It doesn't try to be anything ore than a grilled cheese sandwich, but you're thankful that you were able to get something nice and simple for lunch. That's why I give Neighbors, for its humor, well acted performances, and nice emotional core, and solid 4 out of 5 stars.


Next week, most likely something that will make me take back everything I said about having hope for the summer movie season!

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