Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Hype can make or break a film. Marketing and PR teams work tirelessly deciding just how much excitement they want to drum up for their Films. And ever since an incomplete version was screened at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March, the hype for Neighbors has just increased by the week. And for a Comedy, that could be especially intimidating.
But this is one of those times where you should believe the hype.
Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are new Parents and Homeowners. They still want to be the couple they used to be, but are stuck in a bit of a rut. When a fraternity moves in next door lead by Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco), Mac and Kelly are a little apprehensive. And what starts out as friendship between the family and the frat, quickly devolves into war.
From the very beginning, Neighbors strikes a funny chord and then never lets up over its 96-minute running time. The jokes come quickly, and are often more ridiculous with each passing moment. I had to catch my breath from laughing so hard more than once, and missed out on many jokes because of it. While some of the sexual and body humour are sometimes taken a bit too far (a breastfeeding scene involving Byrne starts out funny and then quickly becomes misogynistic and grotesque), the Film does a more than adequate job of staying consistently funny. If there were ever a Movie that could stand on the same playing field as National Lampoon’s immortal Animal House, this would be the Film.
Efron may spend the majority of the Film topless, but he really shows his knack for comedic timing here. He works off everyone and his infectious energy makes him a natural at playing the pompous leader of the Frat. I never really thought much of his dramatic roles, but I would really like to see him let loose in more Comedies like this. It helps that he has an impeccable cast to work off of: Rogen is his normal, uproariously goofy self (spoiler – he spends nearly as much time topless as Efron does); Franco continues to prove he will not be living in the shadow of his famous Brother; Byrne delivers her best and funniest performance since Bridesmaids; not to mention the hilarious supporting cast that features Christopher Mintz-Plasse, The Mindy Project’s Ike Barinholtz, Judd Apatow-regular Carla Gallo and Lisa Kudrow.
While every single conflict is annoyingly resolved just as quickly as it is presented, it was refreshing to see Neighbors mix up its humour with deeper, more emotional elements. Its message of maturity and growing up could have easily become heavy-handed – but it manages to stay in check and not break the comedic flow of the movie. They could have gone a lot deeper than they do, but it was a pleasant surprise to see characters in a light, gross-out Comedy like Neighbors being developed more than you may expect.
So don’t walk – run to see Neighbors. It’s wild, chaotic, hilarious, genuinely funny and the first must-see comedy of 2014.
Universal Pictures Canada release NEIGHBOURS on Friday, May 9, 2014.