by Adam Riske
Overall, I’m of two minds about Neighbors. The movie is funny (there’s a pledge named Assjuice for crying out loud) and it’s simply a good time. It’s also a bit meandering, aimless and lazy, but I’m willing to forgive the movie its faults because it works where it matters.
I went in expecting to enjoy Neighbors, seeing I am a fan of both director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek, The Five-Year Engagement) and the great Seth Rogen. All in all, this is a middle-tier entry for the great Seth Rogen’s filmography and maybe better than Get Him to the Greek (which I enjoy more than most) for the work of Stoller. One area where the director improves on his previous entries is that Neighbors is shorter than his other movies. That’s smart, because there’s less going on here than in his other work. The runtime of 96 minutes is perfect for a comedy like this.
Bridesmaids should be considered an excellent comedic actress. She’s quite good in all three of these movies. Surprisingly, Zac Efron is appealing here. He nails the self-seriousness and fear of moving on that many fraternity brothers have. It’s the best he’s ever been.
Also strong are Dave Franco (and his stare), Lisa Kudrow and Craig Roberts. Natasha Leggero, Jason Mantzoukas and Randall Park are all amusing in their single scenes. Fantastic are Hannibal Burress (who enhances his character with a little bit of a creep factor), Ike Barinholtz (who gets some great material to work with) and this new guy Jarrod Carmichael, who has a Dave Chappelle vibe I found endearing. I want to see him in more stuff. Oh yeah, Christopher Mintz-Plasse is in this. He’s fine?
The movie has an interesting style. Unlike most comedies, Neighbors feels more do-it-yourself and less professional, but that hand-held feel is surprisingly not a detriment. It gives the movie a different type of energy than most comedies. I’m guessing it was a cost-cutting method, considering the vast majority of the movie takes place in two houses and two offices.
Yet, in a way I appreciate that the movie is pleasant. It’s populated by nice people who, even when they do mean things, are still nice people. I also respect how Neighbors doesn’t stop for pooping or gay panic set-pieces or any of that shit. There are set pieces, sure, but it is something akin to here’s a blacklight party and there are 20 jokes during the scene at the blacklight party.
I suspect Neighbors will fall into one of two camps for me: either I will watch it on Blu-ray over and over again or it will be a movie (like to Get Him to the Greek) that I only thought I would watch over and over on Blu-ray.
Neighbors is amusing and entertaining if not much else. For the summer, that’s fine by me.