Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Jul 07th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Frat Packed

film fratHow can ‘Neighbors’ be Seth Rogan’s best movie?

Strange how Neighbors is Seth Rogan’s most all-killer, no-filler film. It’s so muscular it seems like a breakthrough. The bear-like icon of the Apatow-era comedy is funny—when he’s on a roll and grousing he reminds you of Albert Brooks at his best. But Rogan works in films that always seem spun out of improv and then cut back to size—it’s a form of comedy that is to comedy what slash and burn is to agriculture; it depletes the audience and the performer alike.  Neighbors is directed by Nicholas Stoller of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which exemplified the first swollen, then carved-down style.

Neighbors is by contrast, brutally cut, with reality TV show editing—deliberately idiotic novelty wipes, such as a star wipe and a clock wipe, propel the story. But the cutting doesn’t go against the grain. This comedy has a careening style, with day-glo debauchery out of Gaspar Noe and Harmony Korine (if influence is a demonstration of greatness, maybe Spring Breakers was that big a deal).

The plot is as simple as a classic Warner Brothers cartoon or a 1920s two-reeler: Mac (Rogan) and Kelly (Rose Byrne), a couple with a six-month-old baby, are living happily in their suburban house when they suddenly get Delta Psi’s frat house as a neighbor.

The twist is that the couple is all for it—life as shut-in parents was getting on their nerves. (“Why don’t you leave it at the fire station?” suggests a pal who invites them to a concert without their baby.) Zac Efron, demonstrating alarming American Psycho inflections, is the frat president, Teddy—he has his own concerns about the mark he will leave on fraternity history. Efron gets to show off his physical perfection and action-figure six-pack. The couple and the frat party together till sun up and brotherly love and handshakes are exchanged … until that night’s wall-shaking party; the Delta Psis refuse to answer the phone, the cops get called, the gloves are off. The dubious battle begins and the baby gets sidelined, for genuinely sweet reaction shots—these include a leer recalling the brat in Von Trier’s Antichrist as it scopes its parents in mid-primal scene. You do have to appreciate the first movie in 10 years with a baby in it that doesn’t have a diaper joke.

Rose Byrne is Neighbors’ biggest surprise. Byrne is in her 30s now, terribly beautiful, woefully beautiful, lean and dark and with sad, Celtic eyebrows. For years directors worked that sense of tragedy, even in Hollywoodized classical tragedy: she played captive Briseis in Troy. Someone realized that all the best comedians have tragic faces and Byrne finally started doing work I felt like talking about, as in Bridesmaids and I Give It A Year. There’s no sense of a movie star bravely slumming through a dick-joke-laden comedy:  she’s avid for this, and lights up with the eagerness to fight the frat-rats. Kelly is the first one in the attack when a pediatrician does something comically horrible to shame this shame-free couple. 

Stoller puts the comedy where a general would, in the front, instead of making this another family feud, a boring sitcom paradigm of the put-upon man and his naggy wife.  Kelly is full of vicious mischief, engineering a smooth plan to destroy the frat from within by putting “hos before bros.” Animal House is considered a classic for a dozen or so routines, but there’s more vigor and force here—Neighbors may be the ultimate frat-house comedy.


NEIGHBORS With Seth Rogan, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Dave Franco. Written by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien. Directed by Nicholas Stoller. Rated R. 96 minutes.

 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Boards Are Back in Town

More than a century after a famed trio of Hawaiian princes first surfed in Santa Cruz, their redwood olo surfboards are returning to the Museum of Art & History

 

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

Saturday, July 4, is the 239th birthday of the United States, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence (the U.S. astrology chart has Aquarius moon—freedom for its people, by its people). Cancer, a liberating and initiating sign, is the “gate” where Spirit enters matter. Cancer receives and distributes Ray 3 (Divine Intelligence) and Ray 7 (new rules, new rhythms, new free nation under God). Cancer represents an intelligent freethinking humanity that can and must create right economics for the world. This means a policy of sharing, an opportunity for the U.S. when Venus (money, resources, possessions, etc.) retrogrades July and August in Leo (the heart of the matter). The United States has a unique spiritual task for the world: to lead humanity within and toward the light, accomplished by its people who must first awaken to this task, learn discrimination and be directed by the soul to assume the Herculean task of spiritual world leadership. Let us review the first words of our Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Let us form that union together. The following is a review of the spiritual tasks for each sign. Read all the signs. They all apply to everyone.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 3

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Lunch is Packed

Picnic basket lunches from Your Place, plus smoked chili peppers, and new owners at Camellia Tea House

 

What would you like the Supreme Court to rule on next?

Raising the minimum wage so that those that are in poverty now can have a higher standard of life. Greanna Smith, Soquel, Nanny

 

Bruzzone Family Vineyards

Bruzzone Family Vineyards is a small operation run by Berna and John Bruzzone. Starting out a few years ago making only Chardonnay, they eventually planted Pinot Noir on their extensive property and now make this varietal as well.

 

Ty’s Eatery

Pop-up hooks up with Santa Cruz Food Lounge for healthy comfort food