Project X Meets Every Other Seth Rogen Comedy.
The plot of Neighbors is about as simple as they come. A frat moves into a quiet residential community where Mac (Seth Rogen) & Kelly (Rose Byrne) live. The couple have just bought this house and are trying to start a family with their first child Stella. Only a few days after the frat moves next door, the neighborhood quickly becomes a non-stop party loaded with plenty of illegal activity to boot. It isn’t long before Mac and Kelly get upset with the frat’s leader Teddy (Zac Efron) and try everything they can to get the frat removed from the neighborhood. This proves as no easy task and so begins an epic war between “frat vs. family”, which also happens to be the tagline for the film.
Back in March, I saw Neighbors at it’s World Premiere at SXSW. I attended the screening with We Live Film’s very own Daniel Rester, who is usually much more accepting of modern day comedies than I am. After the film’s premiere, Dan and I discussed the film and came to the conclusion that even though the film did have a couple really funny moments sprinkled throughout, the film as a whole was rather “meh.” Now, that the film is opening wide, I decided to revisit the film and can honestly say that I am a bit baffled the film is at a 76% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
SEE ALSO: Neighbors – Review by Daniel Rester
Before watching Neighbors, I can safely admit that I wasn’t expecting much from it. I figured the film was going to be the standard college comedy with Seth Rogen type humor mixed in. Surely enough, that is exactly what I got. What I guess is my biggest issue with this film and it is the same issue that I have with so many recent comedy films is that they all feel exactly the same. About 95% of what happens in Neighbors can be found in college movies from the 1980s to now. I think the idea of creating original concepts seems to rely more on quick “gross out moments” rather than actually telling a good story with well-written characters.
Let me ask you this, how many college themed films have the whole “bros before hoes” plot point? How many of those same films feature dumb frat guys hooking up with hotties? Lastly, how many of those films feature a ton of scenes where people are getting high, getting drunk off their asses, and jumping off things? The answer is a lot. There are so many films that contain all the same elements that the only real difference between something like Project X and this film is really the cast and the whole neighbors trying to take out the frat down plot point.
This brings me to my second problem with the film. How many times can audiences watch Seth Rogen play the same character over and over again? I understand that the guy has a following, but when is his act going to change? There is only so much of an sarcastic asshole that one can endure. Rogen has been playing this character ever since the 40 Year Old Virgin back in 2005 and somehow audiences don’t seem to mind. I just don’t get how others don’t grow tired of it. It honestly feels like its the same old shtick every time I see him in a film.
As for Zac Efron, I always liked the guy even when he was doing cheesy films like High School Musical. I think Efron has a lot of talent, however, he hasn’t found that right role yet to make him shine. He has starred in a series of independent films such as The Paperboy, At Any Price, and Parkland, but none of these really have made him into a star. I feel by playing Teddy in Neighbors, he might gain a following by playing a very stereotypical “dumb hot guy” but is that really what you want from a film career. I don’t think that Efron is bad in the film, don’t get me wrong, but its definitely not exactly the hardest character to play. All Efron had to do was act like an idiot, take his shirt off, and drink a lot. It really isn’t much of a career expanding role in my opinion.
Now, in terms of the remaining cast members, I do think that Rose Byrne as Kelly is one of the strongest things in the entire film. Byrne is pretty comical throughout the film and what makes her different than Rogen is that she plays a different character in each film that she stars in. I don’t think Neighbors used her as much as it should have, however, she really was one of the more redeeming elements of the film. I will also say that Ike Barinholtz was pretty hysterical as Jimmy. Some of the things that this guy did were just so random that you couldn’t help but laugh at his dumb-ass. The other supporting frat guy actors included Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Jerrod Carmichael all of which played cliched frat guy stereotypes. They were all fine but again nothing really fresh or new about their characters.
In terms of the actual story, it is 100% predictable and formulaic. I think there are some comedic moments throughout the film especially many of the scenes that feature Byrne as well as some of the over the top fighting that goes on. The rest of the film’s gags were either spoiled in the trailers such as the airbag and the Robert De Niro party scene, or were just not all that funny. I understand that Neighbors is a mindless comedy, however, I can only suspend disbelief to a certain degree with a film like this. It is really hard to look past that fact that no other neighbors call the cops on the fraternity besides Mac and Kelly. Furthermore, its hard to believe that a college Dean would be so passive about multiple complaints regarding the frat and their illegal activities.
What makes the story is worse is that most of it relies so much on gross out humor. The film attempts to use a baby to promote laughs which at first was sorta cute and funny, however, once the baby was constantly being used for the center of sexual gag, it became a bit too much and overused. I think I literately shook my head in disgust when Mac runs into the hospital screaming “HIV baby coming through.”
All in all, Neighbors wasn’t a film that I walked out hating like I did with Project X, however, it is a far cry from being anything worthwhile. I think if you are a fan of Rogen and enjoy these modern day college party flicks then you will probably enjoy a lot of what Neighbors has to offer. For those who aren’t fans of this brand of humor and are tired of recycled content, Neighbors does very little to impress. Neighbors is destined to be one this years more popular comedies, but with the lack of creative comedies coming out of Hollywood nowadays that really isn’t a good thing.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Neighbors is a 5 out of 10.