May 11, 2014

Critical Capsule: Neighbors

Neighbors opened this weekend and is likely to make a killing at the box office, unfortunately, it will not be because it is a good movie. Any money that it makes will be a testament to the marketing group at Universal Pictures. I will admit, the campaign had me hooked. Yes, I like Rogen and Byrne, Efron, well, I have no opinion of him, and Dave Franco can be funny. Well, the trailer offered some chuckles, but the movie does not. It is not really a movie worth your time unless you see as much as I do or have been likewise duped by the advertising campaign.

The idea is a simple one. Rogen and Byrne are new parents trying to find a way to balance the life they had with their new life as parents when everything is thrown into chaos when a frat moves in next door. What follows is a series of escalating pranks as the couple try to get the frat to keep it down and the frat, led by Zac Efron's frat president Teddy. It quickly builds to a fever pitch and things get way out of control.

On paper, that sounds fun enough, however, it probably would have been better if the screenplay had a few more go arounds. What seems more likely is that they had a broad sketch of a screenplay and let the cast make up the rest and fill in the holes as they went along. This results in a rather shoddy final product that attempts for laughs over any development. No, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but when you cannot build context for the jokes or a reason to care for the characters, there is no reason for it to be funny. This is why the trailer works so well, a series of gags in quick succession with no context gives the illusion of being “good” as the bits on their own can be funny.

I sat there in a stony silence, watching these attacks go back and forth, lame jokes and all. I kept waiting for the humor to land or something of not to happen, but it did not come. There were isolated moments of attempted character development, little shreds of a screenplay left in there amidst the improv. If they allowed these things to develop, the movie may have worked better. As it is, it really isn't worth the time. And no, I am not against silly, over the top comedy, but sometimes it just doesn't work.

Not Recommended.

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