What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with a movie that preaches, “Bros before hoes”? Okay, yes, there are several better ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day. But not everyone can get a reservation at the Cordon Bleu and it turns out that Deadpool 2 won’t be out until 2018, so I’m out of options. Zac Efron it is.
In the quiet municipality of… Arendelle? Close enough. In the quiet, summer-like municipality of Arendelle, new parents Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are settling into adulthood. They have an adorable, tearless baby and a beautiful house but everything feels a little too… cereal box. It is with mixed feelings that the young couple witness the sale of the neighbour’s house to a fraternity. The noise level? Not so good. But Mac and Kelly are cool neighbours, and youth-like adventure is what they’ve been craving. They try to make a go at it, getting plastered on the first night with the frat president, Teddy (Zac Efron), and his adoring followers. All seems cool until one night the noise is a little too much. Concerned that it will wake the baby and unable to reach Teddy to politely (and very smoothly) ask him to turn it down, Mac and Kelly call the cops. Teddy feels betrayed and begins an all-out war to irritate his neighbours as much as possible. Things escalate, mistakes are made, dildos are 3D printed, and the back and forth revenge gets uncomfortable for everyone – except for Baby Stella who remains adorable (and tearless) from start to finish.
Deep down, Neighbors is about the fear of getting old vs. #millennials #YOLO. Seth Rogen waters his front lawn and glares as Zac Efron BBQs on the sidewalk with clothing that gave up and melted off. It’s not really a fair fight. What gives it balance is the hidden conundrum that is Kelly the former exchange student. Mac’s wife is a mysterious manipulator and the mastermind behind the adults’ plans. She’s like cupid with a box of fireworks and a baby monitor. While Mac takes the brunt of the frat house’s hazing-like revenge and demands payback for every insult, Kelly channels her outrage and lack of sleep into seductive schemes. Some work, some lead to nowhere, and some should have Kelly arrested if she didn’t have a knack for disappearing into the hotbox haze.
Meanwhile, the frat house is populated by dicks. Literally. They’re everywhere. Neighbors has one joke, a few male models, and Seth Rogen for relatability. Other than a couple of hidden airbags, there was nothing surprising or, honestly, really that funny about Neighbors; just a bunch of latex Johnsons for sale on the front porch. When in doubt, or when a moment seems to lag, Neighbors has no fear of waving the ‘flag pole’ for any reason it can justify: cementing a friendship, mocking an ex-husband, fixing a flooded basement, warding off an opponent, performing a party trick, you name it. A little variety is always appreciated.
Maybe it’s not my kind of humour, maybe I’m too big of a fan of brunch to really appreciate the epic ragers, or maybe Mac and Kelly are so relatable that their problems seem totally justified. It’s a mystery. I just didn’t find Neighbors funny. I actually kind of struggled through. It was exhausting to see the vengeance escalate until innocent pedestrians got hit in the face with a flaming oil drum. Too far. Because I don’t think I laughed once, but I was a little impressed with the secret past of Kelly the new mom, I’ll give Neighbors a 3/10.