Neighbors (Movie Review)

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With the second installment coming out on DVD soon, I thought I’d give the original film a viewing. The film is by no means a perfect film– or even a great one– but it does what few contemporary comedies does: offer up laughs as well as emotional moments that actually work. Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrne each give interesting and fun performances that bring to life Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien’s funny screenplay and Nicholas Stoller’s comical direction.

Seth Rogen leads the cast with a decent performance that is very much like all his other performances. But that works fine for this film (like many others too) and he does well with the eccentric and raunchy screenplay. He also has a nice understanding of his character’s maturity and knows how to work it well. Playing opposite him is Rose Byrne as Rogen’s wife. Byrne, however, outshines Rogen and truly takes over the film with her witty and well-acted performance. But she also has great chemistry with Rogen and doesn’t take away from the film by stealing the spotlight. Supporting them is Zac Efron as the leaser of the fraternity that moves in next to Rogen and Byrne. In this role Efron really truly shines as both a comedic actor as well as a dramatic actor. The further into the movie the viewer gets the more compelling Efron’s character gets. Efron also has great chemistry with Byrne and Rogen as well as the rest of the frat-members.

Most notably of those members is Dave Franco as the VP of the fraternity and the upbeat sidekick to Efron. Franco is great onscreen with the rest of the cast, but also manages to feature compelling individual scenes and moments. he rest of the ensemble of frat-members is also very tight including great performances by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Craig Roberts and Jerrod Carmichael. The film also features Ike Barinholtz as Byrne and Rogen’s accomplice, who also puts in a very humorous performance that sticks with the viewer, despite his very limited screentime. As his wife, Carla Gallo also puts in a compelling performance that may not be as well-acted as Barinholtz’. The film also features funny cameos by Randall Park, Andy Samberg and Adam DeVine.

The screenplay in the film is also pretty good. However, there are certain jokes and scenes that don’t work and that pull it down. These scenes are especially those that involve subplots outside of the neighbor-clash plotline. Some of the Rogen-Byrne scenes lack well written dialogue, but thankfully the two excellent actors manage to make it believable. The screenplay really shines through the ensemble moments in the frat-house as well as the very well-written dialogue and the well-crafted development of Efron’s character. Not every joke in the film works. There seems to be a 50-50 proportion of the jokes that actually work, but the ones that work, work well and the ones that don’t, don’t take too much away from the film.

Essentially this film is one of the better comedies of the decade, but it still has its misses. The actors are all great and work very well together, creating a compelling ensemble film that manages to hold out its runtime very well. Nicolas Stoller managed to pull together a star-studded cast and a mediocre screenplay together to create a comedy that works.

Best Aspect- Zac Efron

Worst Aspect- The failed jokes

Rating- 6.7/10

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