HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:80
It pretty much goes without saying that you know what you are going to get with a Seth Rogen comedy. Lots of instances with Seth doing stupid stuff, being a man child and the obligatory references to pot (I honestly can’t think of a single movie that he’s done where there hasn’t been at least a REFERENCE to something in the party circuit). You also know whether that type of comedy will appeal to you just by looking at his name on the billboard. If you like stupid party comedies with him, then this will be more of the same, if not, then don’t expect a miracle of cinema. I like a lot of Seth’s stuff, mostly because he is so comfortable in his man child role that the stupidity sort of becomes endearing after a while. “Neighbors” (originally titled “Bad Neighbors”) isn’t going to reinvent the wheel and turn Seth into Jonah Hill, in terms of being a serious actor, but it’s got its share of laughs mixed in with the obligatory cringe inducing moments.
Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) Radnor are ex party fiends a few years out of college. They’ve bought a house in the suburbs and have a baby as well. So far so good, but they’re young parents and still have the fun and carefree life of college fresh in their minds and running through their veins. None of their friends are married with children and are still out living the “dream”, partying and laughing up the night, leaving poor Mac and Kelly feeling a bit left out. Wrestling with their newfound responsibilities and the desire to go out and party like they used to comes to an end when the house next door to them is bought…..by a fraternity from the local college. An uneasy alliance is formed between the frat and the Radnors, as the leaders of the fraternity seem willing to create good ties with them. Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco) rule the frat house and invite the Radnors over for their first party as a sign of goodwill, stipulating that as good neighbors they call them up first if they get too loud and noise and not the cops. This alliance and friendship burns down like a straw house in summer when Mac and Kelly call the cops on the wild and crazy college students. With trust destroyed the frat house start waging a one sided war on the couple, driving them up a wall with stupid pranks and excessive partying. Not to be outdone Mac and Kelly start fighting back, creating an escalating conflict with hilarious and deadly results.
Initially this little war between the ages starts out harmless enough, a little littering, a little vandalism and lots of loud noises. Soon it starts amping up, as most conflicts do, and the pranks become a little more vicious, a bit more vindictive and even starting some physical harm (although I have to admit, the scene with the air bags from the cars was stinking HILARIOUS, I had to rewind three times I was laughing so hard). As time goes on it becomes clear that this is a never ending conflict, and even after peace offerings have been tried, nothing is resolved. Soon Mac and Kelly come to the realization that they need to create an endgame situation and end this stupid war once and for all, and that means turning the boy’s frat party against itself.
“Neighbors” was a mildly entertaining movie that sits right on the light end of the Seth Rogen scale of inappropriate comedies. It’s not too over the top, but it’s certainly an R-rated comedy for sure. Seth and Rose are kind of a weird couple, for while Rose is pretty funny as Kelly, she just doesn’t seem to jive as well with Seth Rogen’s little man child style of comedy. Ike Barinholtz as Mac’s stupid coworker/college buddy does really well, completely the pair of stupidity nicely and creates some really funny moments with the pair (including a hilarious bit of him doing an Obama impersonation). Zac Efron was the standout as I think he’s ACTUALLY a rather talented actor, just one who’s gotten some horrible roles. He plays more of a straight man in the film, with the real comedy coming from his backup frat boys, like Dave Franco and McLovin…errr.. I mean Christopher Mintz-Plasse and the like.
The comedy of the film is a lot lighter for the first half of the film, and really is just your standard, run of the mill stupid stoner humor with the Radnors and the frat boys going to war over the stupid little misunderstanding. There’s some laughs, but they’re in that 50/50 scenario where 50% of the time your rolling your eyes and banging your head against the wall with stupid lines and the like and then the other 50% of the time you’re chuckling or hopefully laughing yourself silly. Then in the second half they try to add a darker layer to the film, giving in and trying to mix in a healthy dose of social commentary about working hard in college and the fakeness of the college experience compared to the reality that awaits them on the other side. Teddy and Pete are the antithesis of each other with Teddy being the strong leader of the frat house, but a complete party animal who doesn’t attend classes and is your typical “hot but book stupid” type of character in reality. Pete on the other hand is a party beast in the frat house, but a really smart person in reality and does quite well in school with what looks like some great opportunities for him in the business world. Director Nicholas Stoller keeps a caustically humorous look on the subject, but tries to make it blatantly clear that he’s intent on making the viewer know that there are serious issues ahead for the oblivious college party animals. In my opinion the film worked better when it was being light and stupid, instead of trying to lay a heavy handed message on the viewer. Having a comedy with a message is nice, but sometimes just being light and dumb is all the viewer wants and sometimes just what a movie needs.
Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude and some sexual content, nudity, and drug use throughout
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=26521[/img]If the comedy doesn’t impress you, then the video certainly will. Show in 2.40:1 (an unusual aspect ratio for a comedy), the AVC transfer on Blu-ray looks superb as can be, with plenty of amazing detail and beautiful looking colors. The film shifts between standard suburbia and all the plethora of soft colors associated with the white picket fence and the little green lawn. Colors are solidly saturated and the skin tones looks very nice. The other sections of the film are inside the frat house where it’s either a college kids bat cave or a wild rave like party with neon colors, lots of shadows, and wild lights turning it into a flashing strobe light of epic proportions. There the bright neon lights turn everything into a wildly saturated and hazy blur, albeit a very detailed and excellently balanced contrast level of blur. The darks are never too dark and even in the crazies of the party scenes those inky blacks stay inky, and not washed out. I always am extra pleased when a good standard comedy has had so much effort put into it and “Neighbors” certainly will not disappoint those people who like to nitpick on picture quality.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=26529[/img]I’m actually really impressed with Universal’s DTS-HD MA track for “Neighbors”. Comedies are usually so front loaded and dialogue centered that a lot of the immersion factor is left out, but do not fear for “Neighbors” is such a sonically wild affair that you don’t have to “live with” another comedy track. Dialogue is about as clear as you can want it, but those surrounds and the LFE channel get in a very solid workout, especially considering how much time is spent with Mac and Kelly trying to break up the frat boys parties during the hour and 36 minute runtime. The parties really crank the volume levels and hit you right in the chest with that heavy mid bass, and even when the parties are over there’s quite a few scenes where that heavy low end comes in handy. Surrounds show excellent directionality as the party cranks up into high gear and replicates that powerful feeling of being in a nightclub and hearing the chaos of the party around you. Bravo, Universal, Bravo.
• Alternate Opening
• Deleted/Alternate Scenes
• On the Set with...
• Gag Reel
• The Frat
• An Unlikely Pair
• Partying With the Neighbors
Unlike the advertisement on the front cover, “Neighbors” is not an instant classic. It is, however, a decent rental if you like that stupid stoner comedy that Seth Rogen is so known for. There are plenty of cringe inducing moments, but there’s still the other side of the coin where something will come out of nowhere and whack you upside your head and cause fits of laughter and multiple rewinds. While I tend to like Seth Rogen, as he’s so very comfortable with this type of comedy, it’s not his best work and it shows. The audio and video are awesome though, so if you like the good old fashioned R rated, inappropriate comedy, then it’s a semi-decent rental, but I wouldn’t exact hail it the next “Blazing Saddles” by any stretch of the imagination.
Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco
Directed By: Nicholas Stoller
Written By: Andrew J. Cohen, Brendan O'Brien
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 96 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: September 23rd, 2014
Buy Neighbors Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Decent Rental
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