August 31, 2014


Nicholas Stoller, 2014
Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are excited to move into a quaint residential neighborhood with their baby girl. But everything soon changes when a fraternity, led by Teddy Sanders (Zac Effron) moves into the house next to theirs and they realize that they are going to be living next to a party-house.

Somewhere between Animal House, Dennis the Menace and 1981's Neighbors (a forgotten comedy featuring John Belushi and Dan Akroyd) lies 2014's Neighbors, written by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien (Funny People, 40 Year Old Virgin) and directed by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall). Seth Rogen brings his typical stoner humor to his Mac role but this time throws a baby girl in his arms almost as if Ben Stone (Knocked Up) moved away, ditched Katherine Heigl and picked up the lovely (and let's face it, significantly more tolerable) Rose Byrne. Not a bad swap. Byrne provides a good dynamic with the Mac character, two people who are desperately trying to hold onto some elements of their early twenties without completely submitting to inevitably boring parenthood. When they discover that there is a fraternity moving next door, their first impulse is to somehow relate to them in some way which they soon discover is virtually impossible. A reminder that those days are over, and sometimes you don't realize how distant they are until they are literally right in front of you as if you are staring at a reflection of your former self. What follows is a slapsticky battle of the neighbors that for the most part is funny, although there is surely some fat that could be trimmed. But the highlights: the many simultaneously talking DeNiro's, the airbag deployments, the many insecurities/panicking involving their baby outnumber the not-so-funny moments. Rose Byrne is actually proving to be one of the better comedic actresses working today, almost like a reincarnated version of Cameron Diaz from the Something about Mary days.

With so many garbage comedies being churned out these days the bar has been lowered greatly. Typically you sit through overused premises, bad acting, momentary laughs. Neighbors manages to tap into some unused veins in the comedy genre.

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