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Neighbors (2014)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/23/2014

All Ratings out of


Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/19/2014

Nearly every genre or sub-genre has that milestone film which set the mark or changed the rules for said subject. The problem is that once this film has entered the collective psyche of the general public, nearly every other movie in the sub-genre will pale in comparison. To this day, 1978's Animal House remains the quintessential frat house movie, and none have matched it. (Although, 1994's PCU did come close, and although 2003's Old School is a great movie, I don't consider it to be in the same genre.) However, that hasn't stopped filmmakers from tackling fraternity movies, especially those who assume that their target audience is too young to have seen or possibly even heard of Animal House. And thus we get movies like Neighbors.

Neighbors introduces us to Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne), a young couple who live in an idyllic suburban home with their baby. Their domestic bliss is interrupted when a fraternity takes over the house next door. They introduce themselves to the frat house leaders, Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco), and ask the guys to keep their partying to a minimum. Teddy and Pete agree, and everything is great at first, with Mac and Kelly even joining the young people in their revelry. However, an awkward moment sparks a confrontation between the couple and the college students and an all-out war begins. The frat guys attempt to find as many ways as possible to be annoying, while Mac and Kelly try to discover something which will get the frat evicted.

I don't have any way to contact Seth Rogen, but if you do, would you please tell him that pot isn't funny. Perhaps if you are under the influence of marijuana seeing someone smoke pot, or hearing someone say pot, or seeing a giant pot leaf fly towards the screen is humorous, but if you aren't, you're left with just another Seth Rogen movie which focuses on weed. One can't help but get the feeling that pot is an enormous part of Rogen's life, and that's his business. But, I wish that he and his partner, Evan Goldberg, would quit pushing these quasi-stoner comedies on us. Is this supposed to make Rogen more relatable to his target-audience, or is it supposed to be shocking? It would be much more shocking to see Rogen play a character that didn't appear to simply be Seth Rogen.

Perhaps the pot humor seemed necessary as the script by Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O'Brien is so flimsy. Essentially, we meet Mac and Kelly, the fraternity moves in and then the movie simply becomes a series of scenes where the two forces attempt to outdo one another. Fine, we typically don't come to comedies looking for a deep story or plot twists, but we do expect some comedy. The problem with Neighbors is that the movie never comes close to being clever. Along with the aforementioned pot "humor", the film's comedy go-to seems to be having a character simply curse or say something crude. I'm no prude, so the language didn't bother me, but the lack of true jokes did. Rogen seems to treat his audience as if it were a group of friends, but saying something gross doesn't work with us as it would with your buddies. There were only two laugh-out loud moments in the movie, one being a throw-away line from Ike Barinholtz, who portrays Mac's slacker friend, and the other being an odd visual which comes at the end. Otherwise, I found myself lumping the film in with Pineapple Express and This is the End as another woefully unfunny comedy.

While I wasn't necessarily surprised to find Seth Rogen in this stinker (although I did hope for the best), it seemed odd that Zac Efron and Rose Byrne were here. Yes, Byrne had a small role in the raunchy Get Him to the Greek, but this all feels beneath her. (Patty Hewes would not approve.) As for Efron, the converse is probably true, as he wants to continue tackling mature roles to escape his Disney past. But, he's hard to buy as the villain here and, again, there had to be better scripts out there. The most surprising thing is how far Director Nicholas Stoller has fallen since making his debut with Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I can imagine that Neighbors' "old vs. young" theme was an easy sell, but the end result is a truly lackluster comedy which aims for the lowest common denominator, while wasting a familiar cast and missing the chance to actually be funny.

Neighbors made me wonder why DSS wasn't called on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good (most notably the pastels) and the image is never overly dark or bright. The amount of depth is impressive and the crispness of the daytime shots reveals a good level of detail. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. As one would expect, the frat parties offer music which delivers an impressive amount of subwoofer thumping. The stereo effects show off at time, delivering sounds coming from off-screen. The aforementioned party scenes also bring us some nicely detailed surround effects.

The Neighbors Blu-ray Disc contains an assortment of extras. We begin with ten DELETED/ALTERNATE SCENE which run about 13 minutes. While there aren't any new characters or sub-plots here, there are some brand-new moments, including a long scene with Ike Barinholtz. The final deleted scene should have been left in the movie. We also get an "Alternate Opening" (7 minutes), which explains why the fraternity had to move in the first place. "Line-O-Rama" (3 minutes) (which reveals that the shooting title was "Townies") offers various readings of different scenes, but some of this feels like bloopers. Of course, those are found in the 6-minute "Gag Reel". "An Unlikely Pair" (6 minutes) looks at how Rogen and Efron play off one-another in the movie, although the latter isn't usually associated with this kind of movie. "Partying With the Neighbors" (7 minutes) examines the film's themes of walking the line between being a responsible adult and still wanting to have fun. "On the Set With..." (4 minutes) takes a closer look at some of the silly behavior which surrounded the plaster-cast scene. The cast of young actors which make up the brothers are profiled and interviewed in "The Frat" (6 minutes).

Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long