The new comedy, “Neighbors,” released yesterday, May 9, 2014, starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron, has dominated television and social media outlets with constant promotions in the past few weeks, and the film’s aggressive campaigning has enticed a shocking number of people to flock to theaters to see the new comedy. Although the movie immediately shot to the top of the box office with an opening day big enough to cover the entire cost of production, the early sales numbers are more of a reflection of the excellent promotional work than they are of the quality of the film.
Although the heavy promotion of the film helped drive crowds, it also detracted from some of the funniest moments of the film and it made otherwise amusing scenes feel tired and somewhat stale. “Neighbors” has a relatively simple plot, which is quickly laid out in the seemingly omnipresent trailers – two new parents, played by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne move into a new house in the suburbs. A fraternity, led by Zac Efron, moves in next door to them and begins throwing wild parties that extend well into the night and keep the couple’s baby girl awake. One thing leads to another, and soon the parents and the frat begin fighting one another in an attempt to drive the other out of the neighborhood.
The simple plot line isn’t a huge problem – many comedies have simplistic story arcs and instead rely heavily on funny bits of dialogue and amusing scenes. Unfortunately, the trailers for “Neighbors” revealed the majority of the amusing scenes in the trailers. The film’s runtime is about an hour and forty minutes, which means that a few boring or seemingly tired scenes make the viewing experience tiring at times.
Putting the fact that the trailers spoiled some of the best scenes aside, “Neighbors” had some unexpectedly amusing scenes that kept it amusing and watchable. Rogen and Byrne have great chemistry and have some hilarious scenes together that immediately make the couple likeable and relatable for viewers in their age range, while Efron and fellow fraternity brother, Dave Franco have a few great back-and-forths that will keep teenage audience members amused.
However, the movie relies heavily on archetypal characters and tired storylines. Its lack of plot or character development keeps it from ever gaining traction, it often feels like the wheels are spinning but the movie is not really going anywhere. The movie follows a linear and predictable trajectory that leaves it relying far too heavily on the humorous scenes, which means that the presence of an occasional bland or even serious scene leaves the audience in limbo; waiting for more of the high-octane excitement or hilarious material, they were promised.
Although “Neighbors” has some amusing scenes and some great cast members, it never quite establishes itself, and its overplayed trailers made some of its more exciting moments less appealing. If you are looking for a few good laughs, “Neighbors” isn’t a terrible choice, but it is certainly not worth rushing out to see.