IHAO on ... Neighbors

Woooo!  Partah!  Wooo!  Beer!  Wooo! Marajuana joints and clumps and bongs and mushrooms!  Wooo!  Penises and dildos and a little bit of boobies!  Woooo!  Characters that are interesting but have nothing interesting to do! Wooo!  A barebones plot that gets summed up in Act 2, so it has to be manufactured to continue into the rest of the movie, making the films protagonists look like the worst people on earth!  Woooo!

So yeah, this movie.  I have no doubt it will do perfectly fine.  And it is just that, fine.  Not on purpose.  And I mean, the directing is really good, as Nick Stoller tends to be.  Seth Rogan isn't quite up to his normal lovable goof here, but he's got a lot of good will built up that spills over.  Rose Byrne is beautiful and funny and kind of despicable.  Dave Franco is charming and also the clearly less talented Franco.  But hands down, the most interesting character and best actor is Zac Efron's Teddy who is clinging to the last few months where he will matter to the world because he's too stupid to do well in the real world.

This movie COULD have been really really poignant.  It COULD have had really great underlying themes like This is the End does, or the Goon, or Knocked Up.  But it doesn't.  Because the script just isn't that well handled.  It has all the pieces to have those things, and there are brief flashes of it.  But the script only wants to touch on them.  And with the film being a brisk 96 minutes, knowing a lot got cut, I suspect that the things Stoller would choose to cut were more of the party "jokes."  Except they aren't jokes, just ... happenings.

This is a comedy about characters.  About being stuck in the middle, somewhere between adult and kid.  About figuring out what your responsibilities lead to, and what life is like after you have to grow up.  But the film doesn't spend very long on any of those things.  It really just wants to get to the gross out, party comedy that is also slightly racist.  Really, the three characters of non-Caucasian decent, one is completely removable from the film (he had to be pointed out to me he was even there) and the other two the dumbest characters in the movie.

I really like what this movie could have been.  Teddy at one point calls himself a "supernova" that burns bright in college and dies young.  It is profound, and interesting.  But that is the only line that he says that.  And the only other mention of that is a joke so bad that I'm going to tell you the punchline right now: Teddy doesn't know what AT&T is.  Yeah.  That is supposed to be treated semi-seriously.

The actual gross out comedy and party stuff, it is all well and good.  And the actors all do their absolute best.  But the script itself is inherently flawed in that it doesn't strive to be anything that it could have been.  And it suffers for it.  Characters are fully fleshed out, with interesting flaws and quirks and themes and thoughts, but then after we meet them, none of those things matter any more.  And our "heroes" end up being huge dicks trying to screw with the frat, even though the war is won about halfway through the film.

I'm not angry at you movie.  I'm just ... disappointed.

Grade: B

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