Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN


May 15, 2014

'Neighbors' falls well short of its potential

The first big comedy of the summer busted into the theaters over the weekend.

Neighbors (R) stars Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as a set of new parents whose already exhausted life is further complicated by the arrival of some new neighbors — that of a fraternity. Zac Efron and Dave Franco costar in the film. Nicholas Stroller directs.

Ryan: On the surface, the two conflicting notions in Neighbors (being new parents in your 30s and living in a fraternity house in a residential area) are both life events (that happened in different times in my life) that I can personally relate to.

So on a purely trivial level, I do find the film curious. But this isn’t a serious indie drama that actually deals with the intricacies of either issue in a realistic manner. It’s an R-rated Hollywood comedy meaning that everything about the film is completely over-the-top (and that goes for both the depiction of the fraternity and of the newly minted parents). The performances by the leads are absurdly acceptable but not exceptionable. Neighbors has its moments (and a few solid laughs), and while it might be a crowd-pleaser it doesn’t have the positive vibe of a prototypical noteworthy summer comedy.

Andy: It is hard not to look at Neighbors and see missed potential. The concept and the talent should add up to a solid comedy. Unfortunately, the movie generally misses the mark. It seems to be taking the easy way out – going for the most obvious joke in each situation. It is moderately entertaining, but it never quite reveals nuance or heart, and for a comedy to survive without those things it needs to be consistently funny, which Neighbors does not quite achieve.

Ryan: Like I mentioned earlier, the film’s exaggerated gags and jokes take away any reality that the film might actually have had, but I do give some of the parenting scenes in the film some props for actually taking an earnest look at being new parents—especially for a couple in their 30s. In all honesty the movie is not really about the war between the new parents and the fraternity; yes that drives much of the movie and its humor, but in actuality the movie is about making the next step in a person’s life.

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