Neighbors (2014) Review
What do you want from your comedy? I’ve found that great comedy comes mostly from great comedians rather than “funny situations.” I think great comedians can actually make just about any situation funny. Often comedians are at their best when they can amplify the most relatable situations, when they can help us to truly identify and then take it over the edge. Total absurdist humor can be an incredible way to shake things up once in a while, but I still think that some level of identifiability is key.
I’m newly married, like the couple in this film (minus the baby). My wife and I began to identify with this couple in many ways, and that was funny. We also go to a college full of frat boys, and we’ve witnessed some of the cocky, immature behavior that the film’s frat-next-door portrays. That behavior is self-aware, not celebrated here, which is nice. And the couple is refreshingly portrayed as a great team, totally in love with each other and dealing with having just left that college scene not long ago themselves. The tone was well-set, and as the plot escalated, it was really interesting to think about how I and my wife might try to respond to such a disturbing situation. The film is really engaging in that way…but there’s a point where identifiability leaves the building.
Because the couple starts being kind of immature themselves. Their responses to certain situations are often head-scratching, and they start to lose credibility. When you get down to it, the film is not about two sets of characters that are morally opposed, whose characters truly cannot exist together. No, this is more about who can annoy who more, who can exact the better revenge. It becomes less about identification than shock.
So go if you like poop, dick, and fart jokes, you know bodily humor stuff. Go if you find homophobic tension funny. Go if you like amplified slapstick. I know that’s what a lot of comedy runs on, and I’m not going to deny that I laughed a lot during this movie. But I left just being pretty underwhelmed overall, and not really feeling the need to see it ever again. It’s sort of a one-trick pony, and I just wouldn’t be able to laugh again, really. It’s not a lasting humor. But it might be a good time out with friends.