Comedy films are some of the hardest to review because comedies are so much about personal preference that one person could find a movie to be hilarious, while another finds it about as funny as a screen door on a submarine. One aspect that many people use to set the bar for how funny they find a movie, is to determine how much of the “good” parts were shown off in the previews. Unfortunately, when it comes to Neighbors, it’s one of the few films in recent memory that shows off almost all of its “funny” in the trailers released over the last few months.
The trailers made Neighbors look hilarious. Seth Rogen’s films aren’t for everyone, but they’re at least marketable comedic fair from almost any perspective. To get a better idea of where this review falls in terms of comedic taste, if This Is the End was fantastic, Zack and Miri Make a Porno was above average, and Knocked Up was underwhelming. Neighbors falls somewhere in-between Zack and Miri and Knocked Up.
A vast majority of the funny scenes were shown off in the trailers, so if you’ve seen all of the previously released footage, your take on the movie will probably differ compared to someone lucky enough to go in blind. The airbag gag is probably the best joke of the entire movie, but there were a few other choice moments that weren’t shown off in the trailers, they just came few and far between.
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne playing Mac and Kelly Radner works well enough. They have good chemistry and it’s easy to buy the fact that they’re in love, but there have been and will be a few bumps along the way. It’s also easy to relate to the new parents and their desire to get out and party like they used to. When the house next door sells to a fraternity, it’s time to take sides, and that was probably the best aspect of the film. Do you prefer the party life of the frat house, led by Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco), or do you side with the new parents who just want some peace and quiet?
The first half of the film makes it pretty easy to side with the parents, but as it shifts into the third act, there are a few moments that may make you reconsider. Franco turns in a performance that rivals any of his brother’s (James Franco) best comedic roles aside from perhaps Pineapple Express. He also provides excellent chemistry with Efron, while still displaying that they’re very different members of this frat house. Their bromance is divine, but not without its problems.
Ike Barinholtz and Carla Gallo play Jimmy and Paula, close friends of the Radner’s. Their support is much needed as it adds a few quality comedic moments to spread out the fun. As the Radner family plots and plans against the frat house, Jimmy and Paula are integral components of almost every foul strategy. They offer solid comedic support at opportune times throughout the movie, but it’s just not enough to really bring the movie into that comedic sweet spot.
While Neighbors isn’t one of Rogen’s best, it’s not a terrible film. If you haven’t seen the trailers, it’s extremely funny, but if you’ve seen even one trailer, many of the best gags are already spoiled. This isn’t quite up to par with Rogen’s best films, but it doesn’t completely fall short in the quality department. If you’re looking for some fun college antics, this could be right up your alley, but if you want something more robust for your comedic tastes, you may want to pass or wait for it to hit Netflix.
Synopsis: A couple with a newborn baby face unexpected difficulties after they are forced to live next to a fraternity house.
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Writers: Andrew J. Cohen, Brendan O’Brien
Stars: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron
Runtime: 96 Minutes