Sunday, May 11, 2014

Neighbors (2014 film)

Directed by Nicholas Stoller and written by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, Neighbors is the story of a couple with a newborn baby who learns that their new neighbors is a college fraternity who creates trouble for the couple as a war breaks in. The film is a comedy that explores the generation gap of sorts as a couple tries to deal with their new family life as well as the horde of frat boys living next door. Starring Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Lisa Kudrow. Neighbors is a raucous yet hilarious film from Nicholas Stoller.

Being parents and being responsible isn’t easy as the film is about a couple with a newborn baby who learn that their new neighbors is a college fraternity that creates a lot of chaos and such forcing the parents to fight back in order to protect their family. Yet, it’s a film that is much more as it explores not just the fear of growing up but also in being adults and not having the kind of fun they once had as young adults. Particularly as Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, respectively) want to have fun but they have their daughter Stella to worry about. While they try to be cool with the Delta Psi fraternity led by its president Teddy (Zac Efron) and its vice-president Pete (Dave Franco) where they would party with them. It would only cause trouble when Mac and Kelly break a promise from Teddy about not calling the cops as a war between the Radners and the Delta Psi fraternity emerges where things do get out of control.

The film’s screenplay doesn’t just explore the themes about growing up, being responsible, and the desire to have fun but the characters themselves as Mac and Kelly do want to be good parents to Stella yet they struggle with missing out on the things some of their friends do. While Mac may be the more jovial of the two, he tries to balance that with being responsible as he has a job while Kelly stays at home as she struggles with wanting to be more outgoing. Upon their encounters with the Delta Psi fraternity, Mac and Kelly don’t want to be the un-cool adults but the antics of the fraternity gets out of control as Teddy wants to do something that would ensure his place among the legends of the Delta Psi fraternity. While Pete has that same goal, he would eventually realize that things have come to far as it would play to not just Teddy’s fear of becoming an adult but also in the fact that he doesn’t want to grow up.

Nicholas Stoller’s direction is very lively throughout as he definitely knows how to keep the laughs going without being too repetitive. While much of the compositions in the close-ups and medium shots are pretty simple, there are elements in the film that manages to be visually-entrancing such as some of the party scenes as it is an ode to Gaspar Noe’s 2009 film Enter the Void. There’s also moments where the antics and the war that goes on do become very physical as well as play to a sense of chaos while Stoller knows when to slow things down. Particularly as the stakes get higher where Teddy and Delta Psi are one step away from being shut down while Mac and Kelly struggle with their own actions as it would affect their relationship. All of which would play into this extravagant climax as it is about not just one great party but how the characters would grow from everything they had done as it mixes humor and action. Overall, Stoller creates a very exciting and very funny film about growing up and wanting to have fun.

Cinematographer Brandon Trost does fantastic work with the cinematography for some of the film‘s nighttime interior scenes filled with dazzling colors and grainy cell-phone camera footage while keeping much of its exterior and daytime interior scenes in a straightforward manner. Editor Zene Baker does excellent work with the editing with its emphasis on jump-cuts and other array of rhythmic cuts and montages to play into the humor and chaotic vibe of the party scenes. Production designer Julie Berghoff, with set decorator Sophie Neudorfer and art director Gary Warshaw, does superb work with the look of the Radner home as well as Delta Psi fraternity house.

Costume designer Leesa Evans does nice work with the costumes as it‘s mostly straightforward along with the design of some of the costumes the fraternity wears in their Robert de Niro party. Sound editor Michael Babcock does terrific work with the sound from the way some of the party sounded from the Radner home to the sense of chaos that goes on in the pranks that Delta Psi create. The film’s music by Michael Andrews is a wonderful mix of light-hearted folk music with some electronic music while music supervisors Manish Raval and Tom Wolfe create this chaotic soundtrack filled with electronic music, hip-hop, and rock to play into vibe of the fraternity parties.

The casting by Melissa Kostenbauder and Francine Maisler is incredible as the ensemble features some notable small performances from Halston Sage as Teddy’s girlfriend Brooke, Ali Corbin as Brooke’s friend Whitney, Craig Roberts as a fraternity pledge named Assjuice, Hannibal Burress as the campus officer Watkins, Elise and Zoey Vargas as Mac and Kelly’s baby daughter Stella, and Lisa Kudrow in a small yet terrific performance as the college dean who is concerned about making good headlines while warning Teddy and his fraternity about their actions. Other notable small roles include Jerrod Carmichael and Christopher Mintz-Plasse in very funny performances in their respective roles as fraternity members Garf and Scoonie. Carla Gallo is wonderful as Mac and Kelly’s friend Paula who likes to party while Ike Barinholtz is superb as Paula’s ex-husband Jimmy who also likes to party as he helps Mac and Kelly in their plans.

Dave Franco is excellent as the Delta Psi vice president Pete who is Teddy’s right-hand man as he later becomes a conscience of sorts in the film when Teddy’s pranks start to get more out of control. Zac Efron is great as Teddy as the fraternity leader who wants to create the ultimate fraternity party and have a good time while dealing with the fear of life after college as Efron proves to be very funny as he has some great moments with his co-stars. Rose Byrne is amazing as Kelly Radner as this housewife that is trying to balance her in being wife/mother and the cool woman as Byrne shows her comedic chops in very wild ways as she also radiates some chemistry with her co-star Seth Rogen. Rogen is fantastic as Mac Radner as a man who wants to be cool and fun but deals with the responsibility in being a parent as he tries to protect his family but also not be a total villain to Teddy as it’s a role that his Rogen being an adult but also one is quite fun to watch.

Neighbors is a hilarious and wild comedy from Nicholas Stoller that features superb performances from Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, and Rose Byrne. It’s a comedy that keeps on bringing the laughs through and through while also having an engaging story that audiences can relate to. Especially in the way it explores about the fear of adulthood and losing the joy in having fun while having a family. In the end, Neighbors is an excellent film from Nicholas Stoller.

Nicholas Stoller Films: Forgetting Sarah Marshall - (Get Him to the Greek) - (The Five-Year Engagement) - Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising - (Storks (2016 film))

© thevoid99 2014


Mette said...

Great, I just can't wait to see this one. Didn't except such wonderful reviews when I first saw the trailer but it seems like everyone is loving it!

Brittani Burnham said...

Good to hear! I'm seeing this tomrorow.

thevoid99 said...

@Mette-It's a better film than it expected to be because it plays into that frat-boy genre but has something much more.

@Brittani Burnham-I'm glad you liked it as I read your review. It seems like this is a film we bloggers seem to enjoy.

ruth said...

Y'know, I'm not into this kind of raunchy comedy, but I enjoyed Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Not sure about this one though, for some reason I didn't really care for Zac Efron.

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-I think this film will make you re-evaulate Zac Efron as he's really funny in this film as is Rose Byrne.

m.brown said...

This movie was fantastic. Probably my favorite comedy in the last few months.

thevoid99 said...

@m brown.-It's a better film than it actually needed to be which I think is crucial to its success. I hope to see it again on TV.