Sunday 3 March 2019

Movie Review: Neighbors (2014)

A raunchy comedy, Neighbors features a few nice touches about growing up, but is an otherwise juvenile exercise in party excess.

Married couple Mac and Kelly (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) are proud new parents of a young infant and have just purchased their first dream home in an idyllic quiet neighbourhood. They are stunned when within days, the house immediately adjacent is purchased by a rowdy fraternity, with college bros Terry (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco) in charge.

The loud parties start soon thereafter. Mac and Kelly initially try to play it cool and befriend the frat boys, but they are soon at their wits' end, and break a promise they made to Terry by calling the police. With Terry determined to create his own legend as a party monster, this triggers an all-out tit-for-tat war between the neighbours for the duration of the college semester.

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne (playing up an Australian accent) share a smooth chemistry as the in-synch parents slowly adjusting to adulthood responsibilities but still determined to hold on to the hipness of youth. The scenes between them are easily the highlights of Neighbors, but unfortunately the film is less about the couple and more about the war of high jinx and wild antics with the rowdy frat boys.

And over at the frat house, director Nicholas Stoller does eventually include a few scenes with Terry and Pete questioning what the future holds once college ends, and challenging the ethos of all parties all the time. But these interludes are distractions, and the film is mostly about all the parties, all the time.

The script by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien is determined to cram in as much drug and alcohol fuelled craziness as possible within 97 minutes, and the film descends into a grey haze of sameness. In the meantime, all the other members of the fraternity remain stock sex-obsessed and barely defined characters.

The better moments involve the college dean played by Lisa Kudrow, who harbours a dry and pragmatic approach to her job of keeping fraternities in line, measured by media headlines. Mac and Kelly's attempts at maintaining a sex life in the presence of a curious baby, noisy neighbours and frequent episodes of extreme drunkenness also hit the funny mark.

Unexpected Neighbors disrupt the suburbs, always with a lot of noise but not quite enough wit.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

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