Starring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrne
No offence to my neighbours but nobody really likes their neighbours. This is at least the presumption made by the people behind the new comedy, NEIGHBORS, as they take that concept and push it to extremes by having a raucous fraternity move in next to a couple with a new baby in a once quiet neighbrourhood. This premise is so ripe with comedic possibility, it could write itself really. Only in this case, it is written by first time feature writers, Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, and it doesn’t take very long to realize that they are in fact the worst thing about this particular neighbourhood.
First, we are introduced to Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne), new parents and proof positive that anyone can have a baby but not everyone should. To make sure the audience knows exactly what kind of dull couple we are dealing with, we meet these two while they have what is clearly freaky sex for them. As the freak factor here is that they are doing it in the kitchen, the audience can infer that playing house is getting the better of this supposedly once spontaneous couple. If that doesn’t convince you though, his tedious cubicle job and her disdain for being saddled to her baby all day should do the trick. Just when it feels like they might die of boredom, a fraternity moves in next door. A couple of dozen strapping young men, including an often shirtless Zac Efron and his best mate, Dave Franco, unload their party gear into the house and Mac and Kelly begin to worry that this will ruin their lives as if this wasn’t already ruined by their own apathy. Everyone plays nice at first but it isn’t long before things get out of hand and a full on war is launched. Here’s the kicker though; the frat boys are struggling with growing up just as much as the couple we are supposed to be rooting for. (Mind, blown.)
I know what you’re thinking; noise complaints have a relatively simple solution, right? Why don’t Mac and Kelly, two supposedly responsible members of society, just call the police on the punks next door? Well, they do actually, but the frat convinces the cops that it was a false alarm, which apparently gives them a pass for all future complaints. You might also be wondering why none of the other neighbours are bothered by the frat’s antics. Well, the boys do a bunch of nice things for the other neighbours, which again gives them a free pass to do whatever they want at all hours. These are just a couple of the gaping plot holes that make it near impossible to get on board with NEIGHBOURS. Not only are there obvious ways to resolve this conflict tbut the flimsy excuses the writers come up with to rationalize them away are so implausible that they end up being the funniest thing about the movie.
I don’t know the NEIGHBORS writers personally but I suspect they themselves might have a few issues with getting older. Aging is a natural part of life but something almost all of us struggle with at one time or another. The trials here though are so obviously derived from the mind of the un-evolved male – how else can one explain a scene where a woman is literally milked like a cow for our amusement – that it inspires more sympathy for all involved than it incites laughter as it is meant to. And given that Mac and Kelly are constantly leaving their baby unattended at home to go deal with (and often party with) the frat, there isn’t much sympathy to go around either. In the end, NEIGHBORS proves that both fraternities and apprehensions about getting older are completely meaningless, which renders the film pretty useless itself. All the same, Zac Efron is welcome to move in next to me whenever he likes.
How many sheep would you give Neighbors?