Film Review: Neighbors

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Neighbors is another solid comedy from Nicholas Stoller that keeps the laughs and the plot moving, making fun of comedy clichés along the way.

The high concept of the film is that a fraternity moves in next door to a young couple with a new baby and the eventual back and forth that arises. The party, after party nature of the frat is reeking havoc on the couple’s new family life and making them question whether they have thrown away their lives in return for this baby.

The couple in Neighbors are played by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne who are wonderful bouncing off one another. We quickly can buy into their relationship and its nice to not see them fall into types over the course of the movie. They are one of the more authentic feeling couples in sometime, especially in a comedy, and I easily could have spent more time with these two. Rogen is kind of playing the guy we expect him to play, though he is far less of a doofus here, but Byrne really gets to shine in another great comedic turn. Byrne has been funny before, but she goes toe to toe with Rogen from start to finish and isn’t afraid to get ridiculous. There is one scene in particular that I couldn’t believe they went for and Byrne in particular has to do some stuff I couldn’t imagine, and she is great.

On the frat side, Zac Efron and Dave Franco lead the way, but they have some fine supporting help from some of their brothers. Christopher Mintz-Plasse is the recognizable one of the bunch, but he actually is pretty limited in his role. Jerrod Carmichael is the stand out here as he is pretty hilarious every time they give him a moment, which he gets plenty. A lot of people might roll their eyes at Efron’s casting here, but he is fantastic and perfect for the roll. I have liked him in most of the films he has popped up in, but this is easily his best turn yet. He takes honor and promises so seriously, and his Batman off with Rogen was one of the highlights. Franco also continues to grow as a comedic talent and he is great here as well in his biggest role yet. Both of these guys have some layers to them, they aren’t just bro assholes, and I appreciated that the film doesn’t set out to glorify their activities. There are real consequences here for being a fuck up, and that is welcome.

Stoller’s direction is inspired here, as he really captures the energy of some of these parties and throws in a lot of fun visual flourishes throughout. There are a some fantastic little touches that he sprinkles throughout the picture as he squeezes laughs out of every corner of the film. All the pieces really came together here, as everything from the editing to the sound design greatly add to the comedy throughout the film.

Neighbors works from start to finish as a comedy, and nails almost every bit they are going for. The last act is a little forced, as the couple’s motivations are, basically, expositioned at us, but this is a minor quibble for a movie that had me laughing from start to finish. You could actually go and see this and hate everything about it, but it would probably still be worth it for the cutest baby ever put on-screen. Lots of laughs and the cutest baby, what more do you need?

Neighbors is a B+

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