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The Great Train Robbery

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These Neighbors are funny for a while, but it’s best to move elsewhere.

Missed Joke

Efron wonders what all the fuss is about
Efron wonders what all the fuss is about

Neighbors is one of those comedies where most of the best jokes are in the commercials — with a twist. Some of the jokes in the commercials aren’t in the movie. Yeah. Like the one where Mac Radner (Seth Rogen, Knocked Up) sits on a toilet that then falls through the floor. For whatever reason, it didn’t make the final cut. It’ll probably show up in the inevitable extra-raunchy, super-extended cut on home video, the kind of unrated edition that extends the running time from 95 minutes to 96 minutes.

A marketing-to-movie disconnect like that is reminiscent of The Sweetest Thing, a godawful Cameron Diaz comedy. The commercials for that one featured jokes which were actually outtakes played during the movie’s end credits.

Okay. Neighbors isn’t nearly that bad. It does have a couple of really good, laugh-out-loud moments.

The best involves car air bags stolen from Mac’s car. They resurface as whoopie cushions in office chairs in Mac’s workplace. When they go off, they send Mac through the ceiling. Nice. Brutal. Hilarious.

The reason? Mac is at war with his new neighbors, a group of rowdy fraternity brothers.

Delta Psi Beta

Things start with Mac and Kelly (Rose Byrne, X-Men: First Class) shocked to see their neighbor’s house up for sale. A homosexual, mixed-raced couple with an infant are discussing terms with the realtor and it seems as though the new neighbors will be quiet and the movie might have something more than frat raunch on its agenda.

But... No. The movie features Rogen’s staples. Weed. Party. Sex. Slapstick. Smack talk. They can mix for a fine cocktail, as in This Is the End, but the result here is spolied by a tacked-on, artificial sentiment about adulthood and parenting being more exciting than the party lifestyle Rogen loves to both mock and glorify.

If only more care were taken to make the sentiment feel genuine; the juxtaposition of adulthood and college immaturity is poorly executed here, particularly when Rogen seems to not want to graduate from his cult-hero man-child status.

When a friend invites the couple to a rave, the Radners decide to bring their baby. But the exercise of getting all the baby gear together ultimately is their undoing as Mac and Kelly fall sound asleep at their very own front door and never make it to their friend’s Best. Night. Ever.

That’s kinda sweet. It’s also kinda funny. But it’s also kinda as affectionate as it gets about home life. Otherwise, it’s back to Rogen being Rogen and making jokes about mom-tipping after an over-the-top milking scene. Put the two together in your own mind.

Flat Beer

Frustrated by the sudden drop in their property value by dint of the proximity to the frat house, the Radners go to war. What promises to be a vicious MAD Magazine Spy vs. Spy-style tale of suburban warfare between vengeful neighbors never materializes, though it’s a premise that is ripe for non-stop, cathartic mischief-making.

Mac vandalizes the frat house in hopes of sending the fraternity into bankruptcy. It almost works. Instead, the guys put on a homemade dildo sale that raises $10,000 and sends their parties to an all-new level of obnoxiousness.

After that, and the air bags situation, the creativity wanes and the movie turns into a bumpy ride looking for a place to end. While most of the cast tries to make substance from vapor, it’s worth pointing out it’s time for Christopher Mintz-Plasse to grow up and move on. It’s simply irritating to see him as a frat brother at this point and still doing Superbad stuff. It is a small role, but not small enough.