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Movie Review - 'Neighbors' shows us a whole new version of fraternal order



Comedic flavor – I don’t know about you, but I like to laugh and one way to do that is to go see a comedy on the big screen. Only I’ve never been one to see that many comedies in theaters, mostly because they are rarely worth it. It can be fun obviously, but not being one to get much more from sitting in a theater laughing with 300 strangers, I usually opt to see it when it’s out of theaters. So, the fact I went to see “Neighbors” now versus waiting until it comes out on DVD should tell you a lot about my expectations for this film, which after watching it was everything I had hoped for, plus some.

Zac Efron and Dave Franco in "Neighbors"
Universal Pictures

What’s it about? At its core, this is just your basic story of when new neighbor’s move and the impact they can have on you both directly and indirectly. Only here, those new neighbors are an actual frat house for a college nearby. With a newborn daughter, Mac (Seth Rogan) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) instantly become worried. So, they do what any other parents would do. They go over and ask the new residents to “keep it down.” The Delta Psi leaders, Pete (Dave Franco) and Teddy (Zac Efron) say OK and ask that Mac and Kelly always come to them first instead of calling the police. So when the music got out of control the very next night, Mac stuck to his word and made the call to the house. But, when he was not able to get through, Kelly told him to call the police anonymously. Made sense up until the officer showed up next door and told Teddy who had called in the complaint. From that moment, the line had been drawn in the sand, for a new war was about to begin in this once quiet neighborhood. A war that will have you laughing up to and long after the credits roll.

Who was in it? For once, not a whole lot of big names were attached to a comedy, which is a welcomed surprise. Maybe Adam Sandler should take note given how many stars he puts in his films that rarely equal out to something good. But, that didn’t happen here given Seth Rogan was probably your biggest star outside of Zac Efron. And it’s not as if Rogan is even that big of a name. Sure, for people that watch comedies all the time, you know him, but I would bet there are still some that couldn’t put a name to the face. And that’s fair given the types of films he has been a part of, but I think this actually might have been his best performance to date. Sounds weird coming from a comedy, but without Rogan, I doubt this cast would have fit in as well as they did. That includes Zac Efron and Dave Franco, who each were surprisingly very funny in this story written by Andrew Cohen and Brendan O’Brien. Having said that though, the true dark horse to this cast was Rose Byrne. Having watched her in the gripping TV Drama Damages, I already kind of knew what Byrne was capable of, but still wound up being impressed here. And like Rogan, you don’t expect that, so kudos to her for managing her part as well as she did opposite all these men. She was funny and fit right into the character she was playing, which believe it or not, helped sell this story even more.

The right balance – You can talk about having the right balance in pretty much any line of work. But, in movies, it can be crucial to the overall product at the end. And I have always felt, no matter the genre, without that balance, the film will fall flat on its face. Well, that didn’t happen here thanks to director Nicholas Stoller, who made sure to get the most out of the well-crafted script. That’s important, because for comedies to work, the humor has to hit home and be sustainable. It did here where you almost couldn’t catch your breath between one funny sequence to the next. I mean, several times, I probably missed something due to laughing at whatever came before it. That’s big and why this film was so enjoyable to watch and why I can easily compare it to some classics like “Animal House,” “Revenge of the Nerds’ and my personal favorite “Old School.” That may seem a little too premature for some, which is why I say go watch “Neighbors” and decide for yourself.

Bottom Line – Comedies are never easy to review given no one person’s sense of humor is the same, but at some point, funny is just funny. And for an R-Rated comedy, "Neighbors" should be up there with recent box office hits like “The Hangover,” as its one you want to watch again and again.


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