Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Neighbors (2014) Film Review

Check it out... if you have enjoyed prior Seth Rogan comedies, and look forward to seeing another of his films, filled with much of the same raunchy comedy that we've seen before 

Skip it... if you want a steady and flowing plot with logic and reality infused, for this is not the case for Neighbors.

Neighbors Poster
"If Seth Rogan's comedy style usually bodes well with you, this should sit comfortably as a hilarious trip to the theatres."

Neighbors is a film directed Nicholas Stoller, and stars Seth Rogan, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne and Dave Franco. The film revolves around the Radner family (Rogan and Byrne), and their attempts to force a frat house, led by Teddy Sanders (Effron), out of their calm neighbourhood.

After last years smash comedy This is the End, it was inevitable that another Rogan hit was sure to break out of the shadow of the various superhero movies coming out left, right and centre; The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Captain America 2 are sweeping the box office... as well as a comedy? Rogan's latest film, directed by Nicholas Stoller, director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek, has him fighting off the somewhat antagonistic Zac Efron, in a battle of the generations! With some fairly positive reviews hailing in from critics and audiences alike, as well as some resounding commercial success globally, I was expecting a fairly decent comedy, and I believe, in all honesty, I got slightly greater than that, in an enjoyable but undoubtedly faulted comedy, that had me laughing out loud more than a few times.

Cast-wise, this is a strongly acted film. Rogan's performance is the least enjoyable to watch, though he certainly hasn't given a bad performance here, in any sense of the word. This is just another Rogan role, and whilst that's not exactly a bad thing, it's just not anything new. The group of leads as a whole though are tremendous. Efron nails his character's ambitiousness, cockiness, idiocy and kindness, and so for this role at least, he deserves applause. Rose Byrne is equally as good, pulling off some of the funnier jokes within the film, and unlike Bridesmaids, she does get to really showcase some acting props. She felt much more like an ensemble member within Bridesmaids, though here, she's one of the centre pieces, and she plays off Rogan and Efron spectacularly. Whilst her character is often irritating and unjustifiably mean, Byrne manages to reform her into someone who you can relate to and laugh with, for the most part. And Dave Franco gives another good performance! I enjoyed him in Now You See Me and 21 Jump Street, and it turns out I quite enjoyed him here as well! There are seemingly no performances which require specific scrutiny, so I believe this area scores high! 

Coming into a comedy, you certainly expect a variety of solid laughs, and I believe that you receive them here. It's not the usual heap of Rogan laughs here, either; whilst you do get quite a few pot or penis jokes, there are a lot more age-centric gags that should have you laughing aloud, as I did. It's certainly not as funny as previous Rogan flicks, like This is the End or Knocked Up, but as it's own entity, you should very well enjoy the assortment of jokes that you are dealt. The warning goes out to all though, that if you don't enjoy Rogan, there is a good chance that you will detest the kind of comedy that is approached here. Like I said, it does tone down on all the penis and pot jokes that are so often explored within these types of films, but without a doubt they are still there. There are party sequences loaded with shroom gags, fight scenes conducted with dildos (Saints Row 3 style), and pot reference galore. If this doesn't sound like your cup of tea, then turn away now; Neighbors is for Rogan fans at heart, no matter the family orientated set-up, that shifts drastically away from the direction of previous Rogan characters and films. Rogan haters, beware!

The film as a whole, unfortunately, doesn't feel like a complete film, one with a beginning, middle and end. It feels more like a group of jokes, all related thanks to the motivation and drive of the film. Sometimes the film doesn't feel as if it's heading in one specific direction, and that appears to be thanks to the rough stitching together of gag after gag. I'm not stating the editing therefore decreases the enjoyment of the jokes themselves; they simply detract from the film as a whole. It's not exactly poor editing which contributes solely to the issue I'm examining; it's a combination of a poorly paced screenplay, a somewhat befuddled plot, and a lack of coherent direction which comes together to really take away from the great this film does offer. And as an after thought, negative-wise, I believe Efron's character was taken in a poor direction, after the first half an hour or so of the film. Byrne and Rogan's characters are played up as the heroes, despite their sometimes strange motivations and decisions (they constantly point out their own maturity, though they often fail to show it, engaging in activities which they apparently disapprove of), and Efron's character is played up as a villain, despite an angle appearing towards the closing of the film that shows his character as someone who is struggling with decisions and life; shouldn't sympathy be instilled in a character like that, and not those who are constantly breaking laws and executing mean and irresponsible tasks?! Ultimately, this film should have been more evenly balanced; there should not have been any hero or villain, allowing for both sides of the drama to stay relatable and sympathetic. Otherwise, though, this becomes a one sided affair, with the wrong side. 

Despite these relatively major faults, this is still a damn fun time at the theatres. I laughed extensively throughout portions of this film, and all the performances are all impressive. The screenplay is good, though various issues, mainly pacing, are to be found within, and so therefore it detracts from the film as a whole. Are my gripes going to hold down Neighbors from being a positively rated film? Hell no! If Seth Rogan's comedy style usually bodes well with you, this should be a hilarious trip to the theatres!


Junkie Score: 7.2
Worth Admission Price? Yes

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