Movie Review: 'Neighbors' (2014)

In the universe of “Neighbors” you will find the familiar faces of recent adult comedies, that of grown adults who wish to be children and young people who are just children. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne star as the parents of an adorable baby daughter, who are forced to fight their new next door neighbors for peace and quiet

There’s only one problem, the new neighbors are a fraternity filled with constant reminders of their college days gone by. A past the new parents wish they didn’t have to say goodbye to.

Here lies the main problem facing what appeared from the trailer to be a situational comedy following the antics of a frustrated father attempting to resolve a tense stand-off with young bucks. Apparently the days of Steve Martin and John Candy-style paternal antics are over.

Though their archetypal characters faced several hardships they were always coming from a good place, namely the betterment of their children. In "Neighbors" the core of Mac (Rogen) and Kelly’s (Byrne) aggravation is not that the frat kids are keeping their baby awake. It’s that they are not a part of the action. They don’t want to be grown-ups or responsible parents.

The fraternity calls out to them like a siren's song to a sailor. After leaving their baby completely unattended at home, they fulfill their hard partying desires. Kelly claims she’s keeping an eye on the baby via her monitor. With the loud noise of the party blaring it’s hard to believe that she would ever be able to hear the baby should she become distressed.

The utter irresponsibility of the scenario is not entertaining in the least. Albeit sensational scenarios are the common groundwork for any comedy, there should at least be a sympathetic character in the midst of the story. Here there is no one.

As the grubby antics plentifully abound, the laughter is not as prosperous. Dave Franco earns the lion's share of laughs, serving as the movie's saving grace. His natural on-screen command brings the charisma necessary to make his character believable. His buddy chemistry with Zac Efron is palatable and the two play off each other nicely.

Seth Rogen’s righteous anger bellows with hollow conviction. Rose Byrne gives a commendable turn as the bored housewife and mother. Unfortunately the script relegates her to repeating other character's lines and performing a highly predictable and crude sight gag that is hinted at from the movie’s opening moments.

“Neighbors” sounded like an interesting concept but the way in which it is executed is disappointing. Had the main characters played the “straight guys” reacting to the ludicrous atmosphere around them, instead of acting like jealous fools who want to hang with the "cool kids", it would have been serviceable.

At the very least, they could have realized how empty the lifestyle they were lusting for was and grow to appreciate their own lives in the process. Well, I guess that was too much to hope for. Rating: 4/10

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