Neighbors Review

Posted: May 12, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

neighbors-poster-artWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

I never was particularly excited for Neighbors. I like Seth Rogen, and I also thought the basic premise of the film sounded fine, but the trailers did nothing for me. Still, the film opened to surprisingly solid reviews. The word of mouth was enough to get me interested and it also got me reminded me of last year’s This is the End. I wasn’t too impressed with the ads for that Seth Rogen comedy either, but after hearing so much praise sought the film out and found it hilarious. Perhaps Neighbors would be a pleasant surprise. However, this was not the case.

Mac and Kelly (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) are a married couple who have just bought a new home in a nice neighborhood. Mac and Kelly are recent parents, and while they clearly love their daughter Stella, they are struggling with leaving their energetic youths behind. Quickly after moving in, a Frat house, led by Teddy and Pete (Zac Efron and Dave Franco), buys the house next door to the couple. Mac and Kelly are aprehensive about the situation, but do their best to get off on the right foot with the Frat. And while they initially do, the Frat’s party antics eventually lead to the couple calling the cops. Teddy sees this as a violation of trust and thus a hazing war between the two sides begins.

The story here is actually a lot better than I expected it to be. Going in, I expected the Frat to immediately be a punch of assholes while Rogen and Byrne would be the likable victims. However that isn’t really the case here. Both sides make efforts early on to be friendly to each other, which was a nice surprise. Once the conflict between the two sides begins to escalate, both sides are equally guilty. It makes the conflict more interesting, and it’s kind of fun to watch the two groups trying to trump each other. The characters also have some interesting things going on with Mac and Kelly lamenting their youth and Teddy slowly coming to realize his days as a big shot are coming to an end soon.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm for the story is largely hindered by the simple fact that I didn’t find Neighbors the slightest bit funny. I consider myself someone who laughs fairly easily, and I didn’t get one genuine laugh through at the runtime. There are a few moments that inspire a smirk and maybe even a chuckle, but not many. I blame this on the writing. The cast here is good, with Rogen and Byrne having expecially great chemistry, and the general filmmaking is solid, particularly the cinematography. However the script doesn’t have any good jokes and the film falls back on referrences and awkward gross-out gags way too much.

So with the jokes not working, all I have is the story, however even it begins to fall apart in the third act. Things become so goofy and over the top that the film lost me, particualrly with its ending which cleaned up everything way too nicely. The lack of laughs also brings attention to the film’s storytelling short comings, such as the weak editing and the fact that Mac and Kelley are unquestionably horrible parents who are not fit to raise a child. The last point especially is something I doubt I’d care about if the film were funny, but with no laughs, the problem becomes prominent.

Neighbors is a movie I’d probably really like if it were funny. The setup is strong, the story has its moments, and the cast is great. However this is a comedy, and one that is clearly intended to provoke a lot of laughs. So, when most of the jokes fail, it’s hard to actually enjoy the film. I’m not exactly angry at Neighbors, but the film left little of an impression on me and I will forget it soon. Shame, this could have been an interesting film.


  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review Dan. Laughed a hell of a lot during this. However, what really caught me by surprise was the heart that showed up half-way through and felt very real to me. You hardly ever get that with comedy.

  2. reel411 says:

    how disappointing.

  3. Good review, Dan. Despite being a main character, they need to give Zac Efron more lines in the movie. He’s probably the biggest/most well known actor in the movie after his groundbreaking performance in the High School Musical trilogy. Seth Rogen would be a beast as my father, I’ll let you know that.

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