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Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Mac and Kelly are trying to have sex in their dining room. Mac keeps saying how hot it is that they are having sex on a chair. And then he notices that their little baby Stella is staring at them. Kelly points out it's nothing, she is simply seeing shapes. To which Mac replies 'yeah, the shapes that are fucking!'
That's the first scene of the hilarious new comedy - Neighbors. If you don't like modern American comedies, with all the weed, all the fucks, all the dicks jokes and obligatory pro-family message, you won't like this one either. But I do not mind crude humor as long as the jokes are funny. And twice during Neighbors I felt ashamed after laughing. Once during doctor scene and the second when the word rape is shouted enthusiastically as an answer to a question. I'd like to think I'm not a horrible person - the comedy timing was simply so good.
And I freaking love Seth Rogen. I would - and did - see everything for this guy. He is so funny and I like his characters - yeah, they aren't perfect, yeah, they tend to be immature, but Rogen more often than not plays the good guy who does the right thing. It's so easy to root for someone like that.
Here Rogen plays perhaps the most responsible version of his usual character - Mac has a boring desk job, he cares about his baby daughter and he actually likes spending time with her and his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne). They are an adorable couple and their baby is super cute. The only problem is that because of the baby they don't have time or energy to do what they used to when they were younger - partying, going out, being irresponsible.
And soon that problem is shoved right in their faces - and shoved in ladies' faces are the close ups of ridiculously blue eyed, frequently shirtless Zac Efron (seriously it got to the point they actually force you to go 'damn' when you see him, and this is coming from someone who is into older guys, exclusively) who embodies that problem.
His name is Teddy and he is the president of the fraternity which just moved in to the Neighborhood. The couple decides to come over, act cool and ask them politely to be quiet at nights. Unfortunately, one night Mac is forced to call the cops - or shall I say the world's most chilled out police office ever - and since that moment the fraternity and the almighty Teddy start a war against the couple.
Neighbors isn't as funny as This is the End, Rogen's previous movie, but it has plenty of laughs in it. Is it frequently over the line? Sure. Dildo fight. Milking scene. A montage of hazing that pays off as a joke. The aforementioned two instances of using the things no one should be joking about as a joke. Is it hilarious? Yes. Hell, there's even Game of Thrones reference (and I liked the movie so much I'm even willing to forgive them for referencing Girls).
There's also something more, as there usually is in this type of movies - we see Teddy's issues, the fact the fraternity is all he really has as he doesn't have good grades and after the college is done, who knows what's in store for him. And we see young, loving couple trying to cope with the fact that their carefree life is gone forever.
I'm not saying any of this is persuasive or especially insightful - Mac's line about marriage being a party too was a very cute but laughable way of communicating the message of the movie. But at least they tried and seeing these characters with their flaws made them feel like real people. And that's always a good thing.
Neighbors is quite inventive - the film was influenced by Spring Breakers and Enter the Void and it really shows in incredible party sequences. Some of those can actually make you dizzy - the overwhelming neon colors, loud music, quick editing and ever present debauchery. On the other hand the family scenes with Mac and Kelly are filmed in such a calm and stoic way. Little, but very noticeable and clever touch.
But the real reason the movie works is the cast. While Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally filmed a cameo as his parents but their scene unfortunately ended up being cut), the legendary McLovin is kinda wasted here, the supporting cast including Ike Barinholtz and Carla Gallo is just hysterical. Barinholtz was especially funny. I didn't see him in anything else that I recall but he stole many scenes in this one.
Seth Rogen is for me always reliable. I did see a lot of mean comments about how weird it is that a guy like that has a wife played by Rose Byrne, but come on - his character was sweet, fun, devoted and loving. Are you telling me these qualities mean nothing? I really liked the chemistry between Rogen and Byrne - it was really believable and warm.
I really liked that film has played with old cliches - when Kelly leaves the house after big fight with Mac there is no long 3rd act of the movie with Mac struggling to say sorry and her struggling to forgive him. The whole thing is over in the very next scene where they both apologize to each other.
Another interesting aspect was in Zac Efron's performance who is very funny in the movie but also captured the hopelessness and sadness of his character very well. I was also very impressed with the acting depth he showed in the scene in which pissed off Teddy comes over to remind Mac and Kelly that their infant daughter is going to be growing up around these fraternity guys. That was a surprisingly dark moment.
Speaking of their little daughter, the twin girls who played Stella were just amazing. I found this really cute trivia: the baby turning around to look at Mac and Kelly having sex in the first scene of the film was accidental. The scene was originally supposed to end after Seth Rogen turned her around, however the director noticed that the baby kept looking around to watch them, so he instructed one of the camera men to film the baby. According to the director, if you listen closely, you can hear Rogen and Byrne laugh after the baby turns around to watch them.
The entire cast and crew got very attached to the twin baby girls that played Stella. The whole cast and crew went to the set on the babies' last day of filming so they could say goodbye to them.
Then there is Rose Byrne. I was never particularly impressed with her work in dramas but she is just wonderful in comedies. She has the best comedy timing out of entire cast in Neighbors. Her delivery of 'oh no, AssJuice!' is one of the funniest things in the movie.
She also plays such a cool character - she is not perfect, she doesn't want to be responsible and wants compromise but in the end she tries to make everything work without losing her wild side. Byrne should be praised for even being willing to do certain scenes. The film has one moment that will no doubt become its most infamous scene but Byrne was 100% committed to it
But I bet teenagers and college students related to Teddy more. In few years, though, they will probably feel like Mac and Kelly. Depending on which group you are in right now when you read these words, I assume you're either nodding or shitting your pants out of fear.
Hey, relax, sit back and enjoy a good comedy. Like this one.