Saturday, May 10, 2014

Neighbors Review

I entered a matinee of Neighbors today and my mind prepared for the comedic delivery and timing of Seth Rogen, as he is one of my favorites going today. I wondered how Zac Efron would hold his own when sharing the screen with others known far more for comedy than he is, because honestly, I am a 30 year old man. I have not encountered a ton of his work as he became a household name to a younger, Disney channel audience. This isn't a criticism of Efron at all, good for him to make his mark in any way he could, but familiar with him and his actual abilities as an actor I am not. I recognized that despite a relatively small sample size and without a leading role base it off of, I have become a fan of Dave Franco, a solid supporting piece in films like 21 Jump Street and Warm Bodies. I considered the talents of Rose Byrne and the surprisingly large amount of films I had seen her in, a range of genres from her notable comedic turns to her part in the Danny Boyle science fiction Sunshine. Then it hit me, the one piece of the cinematic puzzle that I typically thought of first and foremost when entering a theater had somehow meant nothing to me. Why didn't I give a shit about director Nicholas Stoller?

The fact is, Stoller has already amounted a rather impressive career in a short span of time, yet for some reason I seem to treat the comedy genre in a different way than I would any other. The director of the fantastic Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the director and screenwriter for the hilarious follow up Get Him to the Greek, the man who wrote both new Muppets films, and yet I never once found his name in my mind when searching for reasons to be excited about Neighbors. I am hoping that begins to change, and my interest will be peaked when I see his name attached to a future project, because for the most part when I see the name Stoller in the credits, I am a fan of the film in question. Neighbors was no exception.

A very funny film about a young family in the grand scheme of things, a husband and wife probably in their early 30's with an adorable infant daughter, yet they quickly feel old when a fraternity moves in next door and their partying ways cause distress with their way of life. While the film consistently worked on a humor level throughout, I would say one of the flaws of Neighbors is that, I'm not sure if any one moment or specific moments really stand out above the crowd of gags to linger in my mind for whenever I need a smile. My favorite comedies always have insanely quotable, memorable lines of dialogue that I can randomly say to a friend fifteen years from now and we will both experience the joy of that film all over again in our minds.

Regardless, I am a big fan of what was accomplished here, a film that rises up above being merely about the sophomoric humor and occasionally grotesque imagery. The real surprise of Neighbors is just how nuanced its main theme is, the fear of the young who refuse to accept that their perfect, pressure free existences will at some point have to change when the responsibility of growing up is upon them, and also the fear of those in my age range, the realization of a 30 year old with a family that you can never go back to a time when we were younger and are allowed to be "cool" again. While I personally have no issues with my place in this world, I know plenty of people who are stuck in a purgatory between the past, a life of simplicity and fun, and the future, the true understanding of what it means to be an adult and care more about balancing a checkbook than keeping tabs on how many shots they have drank at the bar.

It may not be as exciting a piece of cinema as the 2013 gem This is the End, but Neighbors absolutely did its job and delighted me for 90 plus minutes this afternoon. All of the talk regarding this film will be based around the various cringe worthy sequences of crude yet clever comedy, but what I truly admire is that this had a message behind its madness and it delivered it.


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