Friday, May 9, 2014

Neighbors Movie Review

Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen (r) star in Neighbors

Too Cool for School

Never underestimate a grown man's (or woman's) insecurity... even that of a new parent in normally stress-free Suburbia. Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) try to balance being "cool" with being quiet in Nicholas Stoller's Neighbors, a comedy that wants to be more; but one that settles for being just funny and raunchy enough to make it worthwhile. Early on, Mac reasons, 'They'll listen to us, if they think we're cool.' Thankfully, they'll also listen if you're not.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrne lead the cast of Neighbors, a comedy about a young couple suffering from arrested development who are forced to live next to a fraternity house after the birth of their newborn baby. Neighbors is directed by Nick Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek.)

What’s Best: Efron continues to shine, as he patiently climbs the rungs of stardom. Teddy's "Battle of the Batmans" with Mac is a prime example of low-key comedy that usurps louder, supposedly funnier sight gags. Rogen's Mac plays nice with Teddy (great dance off!) and even better with Byrne, who almost steals the movie away from her more famous co-stars. Her reaction to a doctor's off-handed diagnosis about her daughter and HIV, 'Who the fuck says that to a parent?' is priceless.

What’s Not: Rogen's easy to act (and get along) with; and his chemistry with both Byrne & Efron is plenty believable (not to mention enjoyable to watch.) I wish the same could be said for cameo performances by Lisa Kudrow (I think we all know who the weakest Friend was, don't we?) and McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse.) Kudrow is downright anemic as... a college Dean (ha!) while Mintz-Plasse fumbles in a primarily invisible background role (poor McLovin!) Otherwise, it's simply a case of some jokes missing their intended marks.

Best Line: Mac slips in the "c-word" while warning Kelly about daughter Stella, 'She's on the fast track for her first word to be cunt.' Wouldn't that be something? I'll take naughty over obvious, any day of the week... Dave Franco's 'Hey man, do you think we're going way too far with this?' Talk about the understatement of the year.

Overall: It's hard to love (or hate) Neighbors, based on the fact that it jumps from funny to not, and back again so often. One minute, I'm laughing out loud... the next, I'm sitting in silence as Mac, Kelly and pal Jimmy (Ike Barinholtz) roll out lame impersonations of Anne Hathaway, President Obama, Ray Romano (really?) and Mark Wahlberg. You know they're lame, because they have to tell the audience whose voice they're doing... while they're doing it. That said, I stayed awake (no easy task) laughed enough and sympathized with both sides (frats deserve love too, I suppose.) All that and a shirtless posedown between Efron & Rogen at the end of the film? How do you not smile?