• neighborsNeighbors fails.
  • Despite sincere efforts from its cast. Seth Rogen (Mac Radner), Rose Byrne (Kelly Radner), Zac Efron (Teddy Sanders) and Dave Franco (Pete) all do what they can to rise above the material.
  • But the material from writers Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien is so uneven that none of the actors can improve it. Consider Mac and Kelly’s pillow conversation, the one just before they start eating pizza with ranch sauce. This scene is meant to be simultaneously funny and dramatic, like much of Neighbors, to show important characterization at the same time it makes us laugh, but the moment rings false. Because none of the preceding events support it; we haven’t seen the characters’ behavior match their dialogue, at any point, and certainly not in the scenes immediately preceding it.
  • Therein is Neighbors biggest flaw. Its characters and their supposed personalities often play third or fourth fiddle to bawdy humor.
  • Humor which rapidly grows stale. One penis joke can be funny. Even the fifth might be comedic, but by the fifteenth occurrence, the joke wears thin. Such is modus operandi for Neighbors’ comedy.
  • It doesn’t help that the plot begins ridiculous and becomes more so with each new development. Start with the basic premise: out of an entire, quaint neighborhood populated by mostly middle aged individuals, only one couple is offended by the riotous parties Teddy and Pete throw. Seriously?
  • Obviously, Neighbors is a comedy, which means we ought be able to accept preposterousness. Here we cannot. Probably because the primary characters lack enough depth to make us care about them. Mac and Kelly are archetypal late-twenty-somethings reluctant to accept a quiet life. Teddy is a one-note irresponsible child scared to lose his glory days.
  • Only Pete is given multiple layers, but he’s the fourth most important character so cannot save the picture.
  • In short, Neighbors is not particularly funny, a handful of laughs notwithstanding. And it is even less effective dramatically. This is not a good film.
  • Final Grade: F

22 thoughts on “Neighbors

  1. I liked this a lot more than you did. Mac and Kelly just reminded me so much of my husband and I, maybe that’s a bad thing. It’s a bit silly but it made me laugh.

    • Given the positive critical response Neighbors received, I expected many people would say they liked this one more than me. I’m glad you found things to enjoy. 🙂

  2. I think this was pretty average. I certainly didn’t hate it, but I have no inclination to watch again. I do like some of the things you were able to pick up on though. Great review as always.

  3. I’ve always said, comedy is the most subjective genre. To wit, you just gave one of the highest rated comedies of 2014 an F. I’ll admit it’s no classic, but I liked it enough to give it a B on your scale.

    • I saw that this one has a 75% approval on Rotten Tomatoes. Honestly, I was shocked. (I was also shocked how much I hate this movie. I have loved Rose Byrne since The Rage in Placid Lake and became a borderline fanboy after Bridesmaids. And I normally enjoy Seth Rogen movies. Pineapple Express is one of my favorite comedies, maybe ever, and certainly recently – I might give it an A-minus. And I like This Is the End a lot. Etc.)

      All of which supports the theory of genre subjectivity. 🙂

  4. I agree with you on this one James. I really struggle to see what all the hype was about with htis one. Aside from some ok performances, there was very little to enjoy here.

    • Yeah. There were also a handful of funny jokes, but most of then were so over-played and hyper repeated that they lost their appeal.

      I don’t get it either.

  5. I regard this as one of the most overrated films of the year, and though I did not dislike it quite as much as yourself, it is refreshing to see someone point out the abundance of things wrong with this film!

  6. This is easily my favourite comedy of the year so far! Perhaps seeing it in a crowded cinema is mandatory to enjoy it (and forgive its narrative/character gaps) however…

    • I saw it in the theater, though it was far from crowded. I doubt that would have made much difference for me though. When I saw Paulette, the theater was absolutely packed, and I think everyone else there loved the film. I still left underwhelmed. The point being that crowds usually don’t sway me much.

      And I really thought Neighbors ineffective, mostly in character development. But also in humor – the jokes were too repeated for my tastes.

    • I always do, ever since The Rage in Placid Lake. I am a borderline fanboy for her, really. And she’s very good here. So are the other actors. But the film is so bad they can’t save it.

  7. Through the course of this film…I laughed multiple times and fell in love with Rose Bryne. I found the characters decent enough and had a fantastic time viewing this! Although I notice that half my friends hated the movie whilst the other half loved it….

    ….This one is a king of mixed reactions.

    • Well, truthfully I think more people responded the way you did. It has a 75% critic approval and even higher from audiences. I’m definitely in the minority.

      Though I have loved Rose Byrne for a very long time, ever since The Rage in Placid Lake was released.

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