Blu-ray Review: Neighbors

There’s a point in your adult life when you’re still young in life but old in comparison to those just starting out their lives. In your mid-30s you’re still young, and have a significant portion of your life ahead of you, but in comparison to a 20 year old you’re “old” and it’s an odd feeling. On the one hand you’re trying to still maintain the dignity of being young in life … on the other you’re not longer truly young, either. In your mid-30s your life path is mainly set and that’s where we find Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne). They have a young daughter and a house in the suburbs, the young family who are adjusting to no longer officially being young in the traditional sense.

Children tend to be that mark in your 30s.

This gets emphasized to the young couple when Teddy and Pete (Dave Franco, Zac Efron) move in next door along with their fraternity. To the two bros Mac is an old guy, of course, and the problems between the next door fraternity and Mac’s family begin when they act like every obnoxious movie fraternity ever. When the police basically shrug their shoulders to Mac and won’t do their jobs like all movie police are want to do to suburban taxpayers over obnoxious young adults, Mac and Kelly result to their own tactics. It becomes an ever escalating prank war between both sides that winds up with consequences neither side had anticipated.

And the one thing the film gets right is that aging youth and youth dynamic between both sides, as the film absolutely nails down that point in time from both angles. Having lived through both, as now I’m on the other side of the old/young dynamic, there’s an authenticity to it one can feel throughout. There’s something hilarious and sad when Mac and Kelly want to meet their neighbors and still try to be cool, with the dated “Here comes the hotstepper” blaring as they walk on over. It’s interesting to see Rogen in this role, as well, as he made his name as a comedy actor as the overgrown man child.

Transitioning to a role in an R-rated comedy as the old guy, not hip or with it anymore, is an interesting career choice for the guy who headlined Knocked Up what seemed like yesterday. Seven years is a long time, especially in Hollywood, and it’s a great choice from Rogen to take on this sort of role instead of trying to continue to play the same sort of character. It’s a real maturity for a career decision as it’s an acknowledgement that he’s not the young generation of comedic actors anymore. He’s part of the establishment and it’s a good role for him, as well. Rose Byrne continues her streak of being sneaky good in comedies as well, following up solid roles in Get Him to the Greek and Bridesmaids among others, as she and Rogen have a great working chemistry together.

The problem is that for huge chunks the film isn’t all that funny. This is a film where the best gags in the film are in the trailer as there’s not much else that’s genuinely funny beyond that. It’s a film that has an amazing conceit, of acknowledging that age gap, but doesn’t do all that much with it besides fairly obvious sight gags.

There’s an alternate opening on the Blu-ray as well as the usual EPK pieces, deleted scenes and gag reel.

Universal presents Neighbors. Directed by Nicholas Stoller. Written by Andrew Jay Cohen & Brendan O’Brien. Starring Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Ike Barinholtz, Carla Gallo. Run Time: 96 minutes. Rated R. Released: September 23, 2014.

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