To say that ‘Neighbors’ is something new or fresh and previously undone would be a pretty big lie. I mean, this isn’t something we haven’t seen done many times before. But, to say that ‘Neighbors’ feels new and fresh and previously undone is not that big of a stretch because, well, it’s hilarious and every joke leads so effortlessly into the next in a way that feels so new and fresh and previously undone.
I never stopped laughing.
‘Neighbors’ is not a movie you walk into expecting brilliance. You walk into it expecting to laugh a few times and maybe see some boobs. I know that sounds shallow, but it’s the truth. For me, I love Rogen, so I was expecting more than just a few laughs. I’ll be honest though, I wasn’t expecting this many. So, the other night, while chilling on the couch with the bestie, a few beers and a half eaten pizza between us, we started watching probably the funniest movie I’ve seen in years. Of course, by this I don’t mean the best comedy, or even the smartest, cleverest comedy, but I mean the most laugh-out-loud funny movie I’ve seen in a very, very long time.
I’m serious; I never stopped laughing.
The premise is simple. Mac and Kelly are young parents with a baby who are just trying to get back to being normal. They think they’ve managed a sense of normalcy with a nice new house on a nice family friendly street and then the unthinkable happens; a Frat House moves in next door. This young couple, trying to stay ‘cool’ while being semi-responsible parents (so irresponsible, but in a hilarious manner) attempt to buddy up to the Frat boys, thinking that if they become friends the partying college kids will respect their neighbors and keep their noise level down. So, they get acquainted, make requests, get sucked into the party, get dirt on themselves, get irritated, call the cops and start a war. From this point forward, Mac and the Frat House President, Teddy, play a game of ‘who can outdo the other guy’ with Mac and his wife trying to get the Frat House shut down and Teddy trying to outsmart the couple and make their lives an unbearable mess.
Madness ensues in a way that I haven’t seen before. The physical gags are incredibly well timed, the one liners are smart and sharp and the ensemble plays off of one another in such a classically comedic way that I can’t help but be completely drawn into every frame. Efron handles the complexity of his character (he’s a jerk, but he has a hidden heart that bears itself at the right times to add layers we don’t expect), Dave Franco, James’s younger brother, is a perfect complement to Efron, lacing Teddy’s right hand man with a brain and a strong will. Rogen does what he does best, spouting off one liners and using his own girth to create a relatable and likable fool.
But this movie is all about Rose Byrne.
Who saw this coming? Who knew that Byrne was a comedic firehouse? Who knew that she had this in her? I remember almost a decade ago seeing this young woman flitter her way into my heart with a very flirty, witty, charming performance in ‘Marie Antoinette’. I was smitten. Then she signed on alongside Glenn Close to do the whole ‘dramatically important stuff’ for FX and that show ‘Damages’ and her reputation started to falter. She was out of her element. She was overshadowed. She became someone no one cared about. Then she did ‘Bridesmaids’ and everything changed. She was, obviously, Oscar snubbed in favor of her more outrageous scene stealing co-star, but it was obvious she needed to invest herself in comedy. She had that thing, that ‘it factor’, that ability to sell a joke perfectly. ‘Neighbors’ is HER show. She walks away with every single scene. She does everything from kissing chicks to getting milked, and she does it all with such effortless believability. This movie may try and be all about the boys, but she’s the heart.
So, while ‘Neighbors’ isn’t exactly new or fresh or previously undone, it feels like all of those things thanks to smart writing and a more than competent ensemble who sells every single scene.
I always grade a film based on the genre and the intentions, and for a comedy intended to make me laugh, this one excels on all fronts. It exceeds expectations, shows some interesting layers and brings it EVERY SINGLE TIME. Yup, this gets an A from me, and I'm proud of that.