Thursday, October 2, 2014

Neighbors Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
By all appearances, new parents Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) are living the American Dream - complete with an adorable baby girl and a beautiful new starter home in the suburbs. Still, the early-thirtysomethings want to believe they have a modicum of coolness left within them. So when they discover that their new next-door neighbors are none other than dozens of Delta Psi Beta fraternity brothers led by charismatic president Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), they try to make the best of an awkward situation. But when the frat’s parties grow increasingly more epic, both sides of the property line begin to fend for their turf. The neighbors’ relentless sabotage escalates into outrageous one-upmanship, beginning a Greek war for the ages. Also stars Dave Franco and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
Film (2 out of 5 stars)
Mac Radner (Seth Rogen) is the first of his friends to settle down.  He owns a home, has a career, and has a wife named Kelly (Rose Byrne) and a baby daughter.  He’s pretty grown up.  Kelly is a little bored as a stay at home mom, but overall life is good.  The house next door is for sale and they keep an eye on perspective buyers.  When a moving truck arrives they are excited to meet the new people, but quickly realize it’s not a nice family but the Delta Psi Beta fraternity that is moving in. They meet fraternity President Teddy (Zac Efron), and the Vice President (Dave Franco) and all goes well. The college kids seem friendly, although there are quite a few people and pledges now filling the front lawn.  The Radners ask the fraternity to keep it down and Teddy requests that they talk to him if there is any problem, instead of calling the police.

With baby monitor in tow, the Radners spent a night partying at the frat house.  They get pretty crazy and feel like they have let the frat boys know they have cool people next door.  But the party was not a one night thing and the music won’t stop.  Mac breaks down and anonymously calls the police.  The police officer arrives, tells Teddy it was his neighbors who called and even rings the Radner’s doorbell.  Mac attempts to say it wasn’t him that called and the officer reminds him that the police do have caller ID. Quickly, a turf war ensues.  After learning that they can’t possibly sell their house with a frat next door the Radner’s focus on getting the frat kicked out.  The frat retaliates with gags like stealing the Radner’s car airbags and putting them in chairs at work and home.  This is one of the parts where my “mom brain” wouldn’t shut off.  When Mac sits in a chair with an airbag he’s thrown clear across the room or up into the ceiling.  

I can’t believe that even frat boys would risk something that dangerous in a house with an infant.  The baby could have been killed if one of their parents sat in the chair holding the baby.  I realize I’m just supposed to laugh when Seth Rogen flies through the air but I didn’t. I also didn’t laugh when Kelly’s breasts are engorged with milk and the pump breaks so her husband must milk her.  I can list a number of bits that aren’t as funny as the filmmaker’s hoped, or aren’t funny at all. The only one that did work was a conversation between Mac and Teddy about who they think of as batman and they both give pretty good impressions of Michael Keaton and Christian Bale as the caped crusader. Franco and Efron are well cast as the frat leaders. 

It’s a slight stretch of the imagination to picture Seth Rogen landing a girl like Rose Byrne but they too work well together and are believable as the thirty-somethings not completely ready to give up on being young. Seeing Dave Franco reminds me of how much I love 21 Jump Street and how much I just didn’t love any part of this film. Having recently been disappointed by They Came Together I’m starting to think that low-brow humor just isn’t for me.  Neighbors is about college kids vs. thirty-somethings and my guess is that this film is intended for the college age audience.  I’m definitely a thirty-something, and truthfully I’m closer to forty than thirty. The old vs. young feud needed to be subtler and more believable.  There’s stupid good and stupid bad and unfortunately this one fell into stupid bad for me.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Neighbors’ 1080p AVC-encoded presentation is really good.  Despite my problems with the content of the film, there is nothing to complain about in regards to video quality.  The skin tones are even and consistent, colors are well balanced with excellent clarity and fine detail.  In sunlight, interiors and even black lighting, the film looks very good.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
Neighbors' DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix also does not disappoint.  Blaring music and thumping bass are a big part of the feud between neighbors and you can feel the weight of the music. The airbag deployment and every party foul offers realistic effects.  You will notice appropriate directionality and shouldn’t have any major complaints in the audio department.
Extras (2 out of 5 stars)
Neighbors contains a pretty forgettable list of features with no commentary track.
  • An Unlikely Pair –Cast and crew discuss hiring Zac Efron and his performance and the pairing with Rogen.  This six minute featurette seems aimed at critics of Efron that wouldn’t think he could hold his own opposite Rogen.
  • The Frat – A look at the fraternity members with cast and crew interviews.
  • Partying with the Neighbors – Cast and crew sell the movie concept.
  • Deleted/Alternate Scenes Roughly thirteen minutes of deleted alternate scenes including "History," "Babysitter," "Shaving," "Play Date," "Negotiations," "Please Be Porn," "Realty," "Airbags," "Good for Me" and "Watch Me."
  • On the Set With... A four minute look at one of the aspects I didn’t find funny – a dildo fund raisers.
  • Alternate Opening – A seven minute alternate opening, which can be selected from the main menu.
  • Line-O-Rama – Three minutes of improved lines.
  • Gag Reel - Outtakes funny moments on set.
Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
Neighbors overall rating is saved by an impressive audio and video presentation.  The film is about the old (thirties) vs. the young (twenties) and maybe people in their twenties are the target audience.  I don’t have the frat boy mentality and was far more annoyed with Rogen and even his laugh than I have ever been. I don’t find milking your spouse and dildo auctions funny and the film is really just five or six bits turned into a film. It wasn’t believable and didn’t hold my attention. I can see how some people would find every bit of this funny. I would suggest renting the film before buying it to see if this type of humor appeals to you before buying it. 

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