Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Neighbors Has Something To Say... But I'm Not Sure What

Can you remember the last time you went to the movies and couldn't recognize which characters you were supposed to root for or care about?
That was my dilemma when I went to see Neighbors. I felt left in a sort of awkward limbo. On the one hand it seemed like they were trying to make Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne the good guys... just based on structure. But then their characters went ahead and lied and cheated and did just terrible things that honestly hurt a lot of people. So they really didn't seem like the good guys in this story... in fact they looked like terrible horrible parents who would do almost anything to get away from and forget about their baby. And while I have not yet reached that point in my own life, it just doesn't sound like good people to me. After all, if a mother went to a rave one night and got completely messed up, leaving her baby to fend for itself, that would make headlines and we would all be looking down on her. So why are these people different than that story? In the first ten minutes of the film they come within moments of literally taking their baby with them to a rave... Seriously?!?!
On the other hand, we have this Frat that just managed to nab a new house right by their school. So realistically they haven't done anything wrong. This is, as evidenced by the film, a college town where this is easily an expectation. And nobody else in the neighborhood seems to mind what these kids are doing at all. Every time the Frat members are meant to come off as bad guys, they prove that they are not. Almost every negative action they perform in the movie is an act of self defense against this crazy couple who live next door that acted like and even said they were one thing (partying with the kids one night) only to turn their backs without keeping their end of the deal (calling the cops rather than talking to their neighbors as they had agreed the night before).
Maybe it's an age thing, but Neighbors fails to accurately establish the adults who we're supposed to root for to win as responsible, trustworthy people. And that is a massive weakness for the film.

Now that I've got that out of my system, I do have to admit I had a good time going on the journey. Much was forced... some characters were given payoffs that they hadn't earned and didn't deserve... but the comedy did come through when it needed to most. The De Niro party was a pretty funny idea
and there was a very minor message included for the Frat guys about growing up. And ultimately I did leave the theatre feeling alright about seeing the movie. That's obviously not the goal with a flick like this, but if I didn't leave wanting to burn every print in existence, somehow that feels like a victory to me.

If you like movies that feel like an escape and do just enough to keep you onboard... or you just wanna get out of the house for an evening but you don't want to go to that rave your friends keep talking about... Neighbors may be a good fit for you.

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