ByDylan Hoang, writer at
Dylan Hoang

After last year's hit comedy, This is the End, it is safe to say that [Neighbors](movie:401406) had a decent amount of "expectations" riding on its shoulders. The cast is ambitious and stock full of some of the funniest actors in the comedy genre. The trailers were pleasing with great laughs and enough to sell the broad story and basic concept of "family vs. frat". Zac Efron stars as a fraternity President and Seth Rogen plays a loyal husband and early father. Joining the cast is Rose Byrne (known most for her role in the Insidious films), charming and likable actor Dave Franco as well as comic genius Christopher Mintz-Plasse (who we've seen in many films, most notably Kick Ass). The films runs at a mere hour and a half and is full of many hilarious laughs that are cohesively entwined with the story.

Neighbors starts off strong and ends strong but the main problem is the center-piece. Nothing can be strong without a strong foundation and unfortunately Neighbors does get a little convoluted, repetitive and unnecessarily dragged out during the middle portion of the film. It begins simple and tries to become something it isn't. Some of the jokes are insensible and go on for way too long. There are some gags that are more funny until the actual pay off. However, with all this said, Neighbors is a strong comedy that can hold its ground and provide a good time at the movies. The rich banter between Efron and Rogen is one of the main reasons that this movie works. Efron plays a believable and likable character and Rogen respectively. We can buy their personalities and personas and this is why the "versus" aspect of the film works so well. It isn't any "Christian Bale sinks into his roles" level of acting but with what they're given and the progression of the story, both lead actors suffice. It's slightly off-putting seeing Seth Rogen play as a father as opposed to his usual stoner, drunken-driven characters but eventually he is convincing (not to say that he doesn't get stoned and drunk here and there because what is a Seth Rogen movie without a doped Seth Rogen). Efron has been building his career incredibly impressively. In Neighbors, it shows that he can hold a film on his shoulders and that he is a talented actor. Rose Byrne has always shined in her films but has never leaped into the comedy genre very often but she takes it effortlessly, stealing nearly every scene she's in and sometimes even outshining Seth Rogen.

However, the main "highlight" of the film is by far Dave Franco. Having only been in several blockbuster films such as Now You See Me and 21 Jump Street, Franco already has a fan-following and his name holds a good amount of gravitas in a film. He's easily likable and his sense of comedic timing is pitch perfect. Similarly to how Byrne steals every one of her scenes, Franco does so as well. I found myself laughing during a majority of his gags and hilarity stunts more than anyone else. His character is the most diversified, complex and intriguing.

At times the film does seem to lose itself and forget where it's going. The party scenes are incredibly prolonged and become more of a migraine than a fantasy. Stylistically, it often confuses itself and doesn't necessarily blend different styles together. Instead, they feel jumbled together. Uses of slow-motion, time-lapse, camera rotation, lighting changes and pacing feel disorienting and out of place.

In the end, what matters is how funny the film is and if it delivers on that aspect. Luckily it does and that helps. The laughs silently subdue all of its flaws. Everyone feels like they wanted to be a part of the film and all play their roles with ease. Efron and Rogen deliver great banters and the hatred between the two is easily distinguishable. Neighbors offers some very funny scenes and overall succeeds in portraying the story.

Verdict: 8/10


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