As I’m sure most of you have already been briefed in regards to my, let’s call it…halfhearted hatred and disinterested disconnect towards the comedy genre, I’ll spare you the agony of sitting through another directionless, yet passionate speech. Now, comedy in film isn’t good for much, but it does occasionally allow me to rant harshly and aimlessly, that is if I can make it through one of these dreadful, contrived, structureless abominations that miraculously find funding and a wide-release…but I digress. As I was saying, I don’t get many opportunities to publish posts that display my opinion raw and unedited. That being said, when I do get the chance to speak unrefined, it’s usually a comedy film that’ll feel the brunt of my coarse, critical onslaught. And for some reason, I feel that readers appreciate brutal honesty, so without further delay, let’s get into “Neighbours!”
Drugs, nudity, vulgarity, and a preposterous plot? There must be a new Seth Rogen film out! Seriously though, all kidding aside I do love Rogen. He’s a talented, intelligent, honest Canadian boy and back in 2007, when I was at the height of my teenage years, “Superbad” and “Knocked Up” defined popular culture. Since then however, to say he’s been struggling would be putting it lightly in my opinion, of course that’s with the exception of the brilliant film “50/50.” I don’t know what happened, either I grew up or his shtick became all too familiar. Whatever it was, I haven’t been excited to see a Rogen film in a good, long while. Nevertheless, with early reviews holding strong and a cast that with respectable merit, I decided to give “Neighbours” a chance. Do I regret it, you ask? Well I’m not exactly thrilled whenever I make a mistake, but the film has some respectable qualities and memorable moments? I put a question mark as I’m not exactly confident that this statement will hold up with the passage of time…or for the duration of this review…
With “Neighbours'” incessant awareness campaign set to overkill, I’m not sure there are many who don’t know the film’s plot and selling points. Nonetheless, for those of you who have been fortunate enough to escape the film’s black hole of mediocrity, you’ve managed to save a significant amount of hilarity for the actually viewing of the film, granted you view it at all. Yes, a sizeable chunk of the film’s most memorable, hilarious scenes are plastered all over the internet and television for free, so enjoy. Now, essentially “Neighbours” is a tale of two childish, unfulfilled men at different stages in their lives trying to prevail and dominate over the other. Yes, that’s the premise and yes, it is as immature in its delivery as it is script-wise. In layman’s terms, a frat somehow manages to move into a quiet neighbourhood and soon is at war with their new neighbours.
Directed by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek), and starring, apart from Seth Rogen, the lovely and immensely talented Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, and Dave Franco, “Neighbours,” on paper, should have been a laugh riot, not a measly chuckle and whimper. Apart from a few laughs, the film offers nothing of value cinematically. I’m sure the ladies will get a kick out of Efron shirtless, hell, even the male section of the film’s audience will see more of Rose Byrne than preferred, but these aren’t exactly facets to be proud of.
The film would have been infinitely better if they actually focused on the maturing aspect of birthing a child. After the all, the entire film is symbolic of couples rushing into parenthood. Stoller and Rogen are usually geniuses when it comes to displaying the emotional, consequential side of their comedies, but completely ignore that element in “Neighbours.”
I do assume it’s a positive that Rogen hasn’t been this effective in a while and that Efron has never been so charismatic, but in all fairness, their track records aren’t exactly top-notch of late. In Efron’s case, we really don’t have a resume to begin with. Byrne is as beautiful and entrancing as ever, but the vulgar humour doesn’t fit her well. Not surprisingly, the underrated Dave Franco truly steals the show here with his comedic prowess and impeccable impression of Robert De Niro.
Look, It’s not that I’m pretentious or hate laughter, far from it. I simply prefer subtle, intelligent, timely, sympathetic, relatable humour rather than an alternative that consists of the raunchy, idiotic, unfathomable approach of modern comedy, you know what I’m talking about, films like “Neighbours” or Adam Sandler abortions. I know that sounds conceded, even ostentatious, but honest to god that’s my preference. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the dirty, unflinching, harsh, truthful approach of today’s comedians. It’s just, I find that humour occurs so naturally and fluidly that it is nearly impossible to capture true hilarity on demand for the sake of cinema. Additionally, where films of other genres rely on dialogue, performances, story, direction, cinematography, music, etc…comedy films, for the majority, solely depend on the appeal and material of its leading cast members, and “Neighbours” doesn’t meet any of the aforementioned criteria wholeheartedly.
It’s extremely hard for me to write-up a post regarding comedy as I’m sure you can tell by the incoherence and simplicity of this article, not to mention the uncomfortable feeling that washed over you as it continued, so I’ll just end it. “Neighbours” is about as good as purely comedic films get nowadays, sadly. Without much stimulation and an abundance of unintelligent humour, I can guarantee this film will be a distant memory in the not too distant future. I might be a little to bias and it seems as if I’m having a little too much fun ripping comedy apart. If it’s any consolation, the film is watchable and consistently has your attention, which is a huge bonus when considering the state of current comedy films. It might not be as bad as I’m making it seem, but not by much.
Neighbours: 6 out of 10.