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October 28, 2014

Movie Review: Neighbors (2014)

Directed by Nicholas Stoller

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

Aside from horror movies, a Hollywood “crass comedy” is always a sure hit with this reviewer. People are amazed to discover that I adore and re-watch such disposable features such as Dodgeball and Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who saved Hollywood. At their best, go-for-broke comedies tear down the restrictions placed upon most cinema: everything goes in the Dumpster in the search for a quick, easy laugh.

Neighbors somehow slipped under this reviewer’s radar. Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) are a hip, young married couple who have sex and smoke dope. When their quiet suburban existence in a nice house is threatened by the college fraternity taking up residency next door, the Radners introduce themselves to the rowdy students that they, too have sex and smoke dope. The fraternity’s de facto leader Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) isn’t that impressed with them, and the nightly parties there quickly get out of control. The Radners are frustrated at every turn. The police won’t help them, the college turns a blind eye to their off-campus activities and the normally upright Radners must resort to questionable activities in order to dislodge the rowdy collegians.

Neighbors for this viewer was notoriously light on laughs. We have the likeable bad guys in the form of the college students going up against the virtuous Radners, but things fail to take off. Neighbors has a most unrealistic view of fraternity life, as the parties thrown in this film would break the bank of a Las Vegas casino. The fraternity parties this writer attended in his college days were lucky to have a keg of flat beer and some ragweed passed around. College students, even the ones from wealthy families, are notoriously broke. The wild wing-dings with mountains of drugs and booze and wild lighting effects as shown in this film are the ones thrown by drug gangs, not humble collegians eking out their existence with dwindling scholarship money and onerous student loans.

What sinks the film is that it takes a long time to end. The college students are quickly defeated, and the Radners spend an awful lot of time hammering home the idea that staying home and raising your kids is the wildest party of them all! Smug and unrealistic for the married couples who rent this time waster.

Bottom line: If you are either a fan of either Rogen or Efron, give Neighbors a spin in your home entertainment system. But overall, Neighbors is a forgettable film cranked out without passion. I have a sneaking suspicion in 10 years, when you mention either Rogen or Efron, people will go “whoooooooo?”

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