Review: The Truth About – NEIGHBORS (SXSW 2014)

By Laurie Coker

Rating: F-

I wish I had time to write a longer more PASSIONATE review about Seth Rogen and Zac Efron’s film Neighbors, but I don’t. I like to consider myself fairly open minded, accepting person, knowing that I don’t represent the demographic for every film, and I did the same with Neighbors, which I saw during SXSW2014. To say I loathed it doesn’t come nearly close enough for my disdain for this movie. Efron and Rogen both flounder in their roles and their supporting cast members spoil past – normally bad (but funny) stereotypes – turning them into full-blown, revolting, ridiculous representations of the worst characters already over-stereotyped in frat-boy films.

The entire premise on which Neighbors sits is asinine. Never on this planet, could a fraternity take over a house in the center of a neighborhood, throw raucous parties and have only one family complain. Never would the story (which is s-t-u-p-i-d) and its events have gone to the extreme as depicted here and never would such behavior be tolerated, much less exist on any family oriented block! Mac Radner (Rogan) and his wife, Kelly (Rose Byrne) and new born son (whose birth made his parents “grow-up”) live on a quiet street, until Teddy Sanders (Efron) and his fraternity rent the house next door. In a battle of wits and morality, Teddy and Mac, an ex-partier, get into idiotic altercation after idiot altercation and we privy to  nudity, are subjected to toilet humor, lambasted by disgusting dialogue and sickened sordid sexual situations (with a few exceptions) and other filth.

Efron certainly plays a character different than most of his others, but I didn’t dislike his character the way audiences are suppose to, I hated Efron as Teddy. We did get to seem him shirtless and that’s nice. Rogen and Byrne work well together and Byrne surprised me, in a good way, but I just didn’t buy any of it – plot, characters, events, setting or dialogue – it all had holes I could drive a party barge through. I did enjoy the Q & A with the cast that followed (also filled with foul language, but far funnier), but I had only one question “WHY?” but I did not ask it.

While I am just getting warmed up, time dictates the length here. Rated-R for O-B-V-I-O-U-S reasons, Neighbors goes down in my grade book as an F- and will sit atop my list of worst films of the years. Poor pacing, limited comic clarity and trashiness bring down the house in Neighbors. Director Nicholas Stoller has made me laugh before, but here he only cause nausea that left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

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