SOMETHING IS ROTTEN IN THE STATE OF DENMARK. A 9/11 TRUTHER WHO WRITES BAD (EVEN DOWNRIGHT HORRIBLY IMMORAL) BUT SUCCESSFUL MOVIES IS BEING HANDED THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM AND IN THE PROCESS HAS EXPOSED EVERY HYPOCRISY OF THIS INDUSTRY.
WE’RE NOT GOING TO RUN FROM IT.—
Film Critic Hulk via comment on Sexism and Problems in Hollywood
And there it is.
Review: Neighbors (2014)
When I went watch this film, I had the fortune to sit next to a cunning woman named Naomi, who agreed with me that the film was far better than the trailers lead on. I should have known. Trailers, rather than being a potential thing of beauty, have seemingly become an unintellectual bit of bad cheese to the movie palette. A pandering to nausea. It couldn’t possibly show what a zippy and clever comedy this film is. It’s best moments are filthy and humane and coy, things trailers do not touch. Oh what joy we have in surprises.
One of the strongest things about this film is the chops Rose Bryne brings and that the films allows her to do something wonderful with them. Oh, she’s been funny before, but here she steals the show. Some of the most hilariously dumb and cringeworthy moments happen because of her. This film quite literally pauses and puts on the spot the idea of the responsible woman to the childish man and grills it under the light. Women must be the voice of reason? Fuck that. Women are allowed to be afraid of missing parties, of worrying they left the fun too early, of whether they will fail at some aspects in life. Rose runs through this film with such abandon my heart would sing if it wasn’t blocked in by sore laughter tickled sides.
This film has such a thin, surreal idea but it just moves. It takes visual leaps- I love the way the scenes at the frat house are shot and lit, like a trip through wonderland, which it must be for the couple desperate to fit in. The way the magnetic pull of Rose and her husband (Seth Rogen) are stretched and bounced by the extraterrestrial landing of Teddy (Zac Efron, who has the comedy chops to match) and his somewhat square in a round hole fraternity. Nobody is what they seem. Or sane. Hurray.
Who would have thought a film would have me feeling empathy with a frat boy? Zac Efron does such a credible job of playing a lost, deeply hurt but hilarious animal in the woods that you wish he would pull his head out of his ass (character wise). His scenes with Dave Franco as the actually studious frat member(with one of my favorite lines-“you should actually go to school sometimes. There are these amazing facilities that fucking no one is using”) show that nursery rhythms can’t mend broken hearts or make up for lost time. I wouldn’t want to see these two as their own leads, but their arguments on history and emotions are the glue of their side of the fence. Look into their eyes and you will see people who take the reality of this yarn with full heart. It’s quite moving.
Although in the shadow of Rose, Seth has his usual laid-back wit used well here. The trailer promised physical comedy, and while indeed Rogen excelled at it pretty well, it’s his asides that kill. The perfect truth of his notice that Zac has the “body made by a gay scientist in a lab experiment” lands perfectly and ruptures laughter everywhere. His embarrassment( highlighted by his wife in the background) of being caught being a little snitch had me rolling. He’s truly good at being cornered, getting frustrated, and trying to bluster his way out. There’s a real wound he has to heal there. And how I laugh at it.
I feel I’m putting on the emotions here and not leaving much description to the comedy, but the truth is that the comedy is fast and frequent and leads you unprepared for the parts where the emotions are legit. And because those are so quick as well it lingers with you, even after hyper jumping out of the way after being said (with one notable exception near the end, but justly deserved). Again, a lot of this comes from the character interaction we believe Rose and Seth have. That they are married. That they are afraid of having gotten on the baby train too soon. There’s a nice room built here, and the handcrafted laughs fit right in.
Who knew Dave Franco had a spot on De Niro imitation? Where did they find such a talented baby that makes us believe? Just how many god damn comedy vet cameos are there? And why is the success rate of these close to one hundred percent? Oh, and breast milk, why do you make my day(of giggles)?
Thanks for getting in there, making me laugh hard several times, and getting out. Thanks for giving feminism a good spotlight by letting women be women, ie human. Thanks for letting this not be a ping pong back and forth of revenge, but rather a round the world of hubris and intentions horribly manipulated by miscommunications. Thanks for showing babies by existence don’t solve squat. Bravo to showing a legitimately insightful moment near the end of the film about life, how it’s ok not to worry about succeeding but just playing the game. And fucking aces for following that up with pizza. The couple that noshes together, stays together. And finally- awww yeah, for giving me moments of shared joy to talk about with people as we leave the theater. You’re good people, Movie. Let’s hang out again soon.