7.3/10 – IMDb
74% – Rotten Tomatoes
Neighbors has been everywhere in recent weeks, blitzing our memories with airbag gags and shirtless Zac Efron. At this point, it’s easy to feel obligated to see the movie, and the response to it has been generally positive. But here at GWW, we do not simply follow the masses. We make our own decisions. So of course I went to see the movie.
Should I pay to see it?
It’s easy to say yes, as the movie has already made over one hundred million dollars worldwide and is still climbing, but I’m not so sure. Filled with familiar faces making fools of themselves, Neighbors will someday be a constant presence on premium channels and subsequently cable networks. Along with Zac Efron and Seth Rogen, funnymen like Andy Samberg, Ike Barinholtz, and Hannibal Burress stop by to provide a wide range of senses of humor. The movie relies heavily on gags and physical hilarity rather than sharp writing, but this does not mean one should feel the need to see it in theaters. Certainly one of the more memorable comedies of the last couple years, Neighbors reflects director Nicholas Stoller’s understanding that people respond well to beloved stars flaunting a willingness to discard their dignity and clothing with equal celerity. That being said, the movie does not offer anything that will be greatly diminished from the comfy confines of your couch compared to the big screen, unless you’re really into Zac Efron’s body or Seth Rogen’s back hair. If you feel left out when your friends talk about the movie and its stars, I can’t fault you for shelling out the theater fare, but otherwise I recommend waiting until it graces the smaller screens.
Could I watch it with a date?
There may be some squirming and concealed laughs, but all in all the movie should make for a fun date. Efron and Dave Franco lead the fraternity haunting the Radners (Rogen and Rose Byrne), and their boyish charm blends beautifully with their cunning. Efron comes off like a bad-boy Troy Bolton, and Franco keeps up the endearing sleaziness that drove his performances in things like Scrubs and 21 Jump Street. Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Jerrod Carmichael also stand out as frat brothers, with all the boys proving capable of finding laughs through mocking the fratty lifestyle and its misguided sense of brotherhood. The aforementioned squirming may arise at certain times, for Rogen, Byrne, and the college bros have no problem flaunting their bodies of varying beauty levels. There’s nudity, vulgarity, and shocking sights, but that was to be expected based on the premise and cast. Special bonds can be formed between those who witness shocking events, though you and yours will probably leave feeling a little dirty or questioning fraternities as a whole. Not too much thinking necessary, so date night can be a light and happy affair.
Could I watch it with my mother?
The discomfort alluded to above may be even worse if you watch with your mother, but there is actually potential for moms liking this movie. Besides the frat’s shenanigans, Rogen and Byrne spend most of the movie struggling to find the fun in parenting, with breast feeding and nightlife and general boredom producing hilarious interactions with the cutest baby ever. Barinholtz (of The Mindy Project fame) and Carla Gallo also delight as the Radners’ zany divorced friends, and watching the four adults act like children could provide mom-friendly entertainment. Rogen may not have a bunch of family movies on his resumé, but here he begins to show off his cuddly side in a slightly toned-down role without sacrificing his desire to bare it all with his body and stunts. Byrne, so friendly and proper on the outside, kills in the moments her character reveals a darker, naughtier side. It may not be an ideal choice for family movie night, but you shouldn’t feel the need to turn away if you and mom come across this movie.
I thoroughly enjoyed my Neighbors experience, though I don’t know if the same can be said for the small child I saw in the theater. I kid you not, there was a small boy no older than five in attendance with his obviously terrible parents. Boobs and cocaine and hazing tricks? Come on, you’ve gotta wait until he’s six or seven for that.