“Neighbors” Review

Despite the tagline “From the guys who brought you This is the End”, Neighbors is directed by Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s Nicholas Stoller. However, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are producers on the film (And Rogen stars). The film revolves around two young parents (Rogen and Rose Byrne) who have a fraternity move in next door (led by Zac Efron and Dave Franco) to them. Right from the get-go, you’re forced to suspend a significant amount of disbelief, and there are plenty of sequences throughout the film that are far too outrageous to be realistic, but yet the film is able to create its own separate reality to engross you in the story.

In the style of mumblecore and Team Apatow, the script is highly improvised. That’s not to say that there’s not a strong direction the script takes though. The film is incredibly well-cut and the gags don’t last too long. There are moments where the film slows down or repeats itself, but those moments are few and far between. 

The humor itself is raunchy, as to be expected from an R-rated fraternity film, but unlike This is the End, the goal isn’t really to push limits. It’s admittedly juvenile, but it never really feels like it gets too immature. Although not all of the jokes work, there is a nice theme about growing up present throughout that makes the film feel like it has a deeper meaning.

Neighbors is also self-aware about the character troupes it’s creating and the ones it’s avoiding. A lesser film would have made Seth Rogen a Kevin James-esche man-child and wouldn’t have given Rose Byrne much to do, but as mentioned in the film, both of the characters are incredibly irresponsible and have a little “Kevin James” in them. All of the fraternity stereotypes are present and parodied, although some of them are used more effectively than others.

By all means this is not a perfect movie. But it’s beautifully shot (by one of my favorite cinematographers, Brandon Trost), wildly funny, and incredibly entertaining. Neighbors effectively creates a movie about growing up while still being able to make fun of fraternity-style films. It’s definitely one of the best studio films I’ve seen from this year. 8/10

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