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“Neighbors” – Review (POSITIVE)

May 18, 2014

Screen shot 2014-05-18 at 5.52.30 PM

I’m curious to know if anyone, mainly in my age demographic (mid-20s), has ever heard of or even seen the 1981 dark comedy “Neighbors”, starring SNL buddies, John Belushi (playing the straight-man) & Dan Aykroyd (playing the wildcard). It’s not essentially the same movie as the Seth Rogen vs. Zac Efron film, but I couldn’t help but think throughout the screening of this new summer comedy that this movie should resemble that film.

Not to say director Nicholas Stoller’s film doesn’t have it’s dark spots, but I was kind of hoping that the film would fall into a heart of darkness that the Belushi/Aykroyd film accomplished over 30 yrs prior. Again, these two films are polar opposites, the 2014 film is in no way a remake of the ’81 film, in fact, and the ’81 film is based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Berger.

Having said that, Rogen and co. return after the huge/whopping success of last summers “This is The End”, with “Neighbors”, a comedy pitting Rogen against the walking talking female erection known as Zac Efron, and nothing against Efron, he’s really good in this role, but I must say, every time I see him in roles in… well, c’mon, whenever that dudes shirt is off you’re reminded how much you hate yourself, and why you should never take a date with you to see one of his films, because more than likely your date will through the Efron guilt trip on you.

Kelly (Rose Byrne) and Mac (Rogen) are settling down in a quiet neighborhood with their newborn child, until the frat brothers of Delta Psi move into the house next door. Teddy (Efron) is the President, and Pete (Dave Franco) is his right hand man, and they’re quick to accept friendship when Kelly and Mac introduce themselves as the neighbors. Night after night, Mac asks Teddy to lower the fraternity’s noise, even accepting the invitation to the party one evening. When Teddy goes back on his word to keep the partying down, Mac calls the police to deal with the problem. The police quickly blame Mac for their presence, and soon enough suburban war begins!

Screen shot 2014-05-18 at 5.52.24 PMThe one thing I didn’t anticipate from this film was the unexpected character development of Zac Efron’s Teddy. Here’s a figure, the typical frat guy we’ve seen countless times before, how the previews perceive him you would think you’d be expecting a Bluto of today…with the exception that he’s better looking than John Belushi. Needless to say, the fact that we’re shown an actual, emotional reason why a frat boy is the way he his, I feel shows a different side to the genre of the typical college comedy. The conflicted friendship of Teddy and Pete is definitely one for the history books as perhaps the most thoughtful and realistic approach for these kinds of pairings.

Not only that, but we’re given a realistic outlook of adulthood from the point of view of the adults themselves, vying for their youth, not ready to enter a world of being boring…adults. This off-kilt juxtaposing between the pairs work on so many levels, it’s refreshing for a comedy to flip flop it’s themes and still come out on top with the same theme it was always intending to tell; fear of adulthood. Nicholas Stoller is good at getting the message off the ground in an unorthodox manner, you see it in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”“Get Him to the Greek”, and “The Five Year Engagement”.

GRADE: B+

Aaron Shore, is a contributing blogger for the film sites of Hudak on Hollywood & Insta Reviews.

You can follow Aaron on Twitter @DoubleAAProd

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 21, 2014 3:32 am

    Nice review. There’s a reason it’s rated R. Still, with a standout performance from Byrne and some fine work from Rogen and Efron, it’s elevated above the typical comedic fare.

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