Quint thinks Nick Stoller's NEIGHBORS is heartfelt, hysterical and all kinds of messed up! SXSW 2014!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. It's only day three and I'm already playing catchup! Just finished a round of interviews this morning, but now I have a moment to catch my breath and put some words down for Neighbors. Daylight Savings kind of butt-fucked me last night, so apologies in advance for any incoherent rambling that may appear below.
You kind of know what movie you're in when the opening scene features Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne attempting to have spontaneous sex in their new house with their baby watching and totally creeping Rogen out. It plays as both sweet and wrong in equal measures, which is so important. If this movie didn't strike the right balance right off the bat then the raunch would just play as shock for shock's sake and come off as mean.
Thankfully Neighbors plays a lot like the early Apatow stuff, equal measures heart and humor with more than a pinch of grossout dick humor. The frat house backdrop gives the film a twist of '80s feeling magic, which mixes so well.
If you've seen the trailer, you know the movie. Couple has a baby, pumps all their money into their dream home and a fraternity moves in next door. They want peace and quiet, but don't want to come off as the out of touch buzz-killer adults. A war begins and escalates way beyond any rational line.
The thing that sets this one apart from most gross out movies is that it's not as simple as good guy parents versus bad guy frat douches. The frat dudes are actually likable. They're nice and at the beginning they actually bond for real. A seemingly small line is crossed when Rogen feels like he has to call the cops to get them to quiet down, which Efron and his frat brothers take as a personal betrayal.
Writer/director Nick Stoller doesn't make these guys the Revenge of the Nerds jocks. They're a bit naïve, a bit inconsiderate, but there's a real strong friendship in the frat and a feeling of guys just having fun in the prime of their youth. None of them have evil intentions and all the escalation comes from a real place of emotional pain.
Yeah, they put a little thought into the characters and cast them so well. Rose Byrne gets a few badass moments and never ends up trapped in the typical nagging wife role. For good or ill (mostly for ill) she's Rogen's partner in the war being waged in the neighborhood and there's one scene in particular where she gets to take charge of a battle, breaks down the players, the situation and their intentions in a flash and essentially Sherlock Holmes the scene, making sure the pieces fall the way she and Seth want them to.
Efron also gets a chance to shine. The dude hasn't really shaken off the romantic lead/Disney years stuff yet despite showing an obvious desire to stretch beyond that. I mean, the kid chose to work with people like Robert Altman and Richard Linklater. You don't do that unless you want to push yourself. I've always respected Efron for that and have liked a good amount of his work. Here he gets to play in a way we haven't quite seen him do yet. He's loose, comfortable and willing to try anything for the joke.
Rogen is still riding high off his success with This Is The End and much like Efron is willing to do anything for the joke, which includes showing about as much skin as Efron does in the film.
End of the day, the movie's just fun. You'll shake your head at the extreme nature of the humor, but by God you're going to be laughing while doing it.
Okay, on to the next review!
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