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Andrew Cristi Headshot

How 'Neighbors' Betrayed its Generation

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In a film that was surprisingly relevant to the millennial conundrum of embracing adulthood vs. desperately clinging to youth, there was one major flaw keeping it from being at all enjoyable: Seth Rogan.


Not that it really matters. If you saw the trailer, then you're basically informed on anything you need to know about the movie. But, in case you're not -- Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play Mac and Kelly Radner, young newlyweds at the beginning of Generation Y, who are the first of their friends to be saddled with a baby. While they are constantly trying to convince their friends (and themselves) that they are young and hip, the ultimate insult from the opposite end of their generation moves next door -- a fraternity.

But, this isn't just any fraternity. It's the fraternity from a gay wet dream, complete with Zac Efron as president, and James Franco's better looking (and cleaner) younger brother, Dave Franco, as his second in command. The two are walking around shirtless, looking perfect, sticking their skinny butts out... how can Seth Rogen compete?

Well... he can't.

And that's pretty much the entire movie.

Here you have a pretty decent concept destroyed because it is underestimating it's audience. They are believing that fans want to come in and see fart humor with fat Seth Rogen sticking his belly out next to chiseled Zac Efron, and making non-stop gay sexual innuendos. Sure, maybe that would work... if their demographic were 10 years old. But, considering the graphic content of the film, I'm assuming that's not the audience that they're looking for. And anything older would just roll their eyes at the same cliché jokes.

People like Seth Rogen need to just get out of Hollywood. The world has changed, and unless you've actually become animated as a cartoon, there is no place for someone who is trying to get laughs simply for being overweight (which is funny that he references Kevin James in the film as a negative. You are Kevin James, Rogen. You are Kevin James.) He is not funny, and neither were any of the jokes in this movie. None of his antics are amusing anymore. People have grown tired of him and James Franco's antics where they pose as a couple. And this film was basically the same idea.

Do we really need an entire movie dedicated to the same old stereotypical gay and frat jokes? The idea that we're supposed to walk away from this thinking that Zac Efron is "cool" after seeing him as part of an organization that embraces "The Elephant Walk" (google it) is absurd. He is unfortunately wasted as nothing more than a rival for Seth Rogen's sophomoric humor.

The real standouts here are the side characters -- Dave Franco and Rose Byrne. They are openly said to be "the brains" of both sides of each operation, granted, but beyond that their stories also carry the heart. Dave Franco's character seeks the closeness of the fraternity because he, himself, comes from a broken home and all he looks for is family, and Rose Byrne's character (clearly beautiful) is missing her days of being a hottie now that she's a bored mom.

And that's why Seth Rogen was a poor fit. With him, we know that he wasn't missing anything. He would have clearly been more complacent in his adult life because he now had a home and her, and this was the best it was ever gonna get for him. When he looked at Efron shirtless, there was no seething envy as if he were thinking, "damn, could this kid be taking my place?" Instead, those worthwhile moments were passed up by silly humor that fell flat. If they would have gotten an actor like Bradley Cooper, we would have gotten to see someone who was an actual match for Efron and it would have raised the stakes.

This movie had two great underlying cores; age-acceptance, and family, and both are extremely pertinent to the Peter Pan Generation. Through so much of the film, you expect a bond to form between the older set and their younger neighbors, but it's only hinted at in the beginning and then quickly abandoned. From the early stages, you would think the resolution would lead to a happy balance being found between the couple and their fun-loving neighbors who might help keep them young (especially when Efron shows up with walkie-talkies for Rogen in disappointment), but instead the movie just leaves you feeling betrayed.

The entire film has the married couple fighting off adulthood and swearing that they won't become old and boring, to the point that where when they are almost at victory they keep fighting -- just to not be bored. But, at the end, once they defeat the frat, they decide that boring married life is in fact better.

How did we come to this conclusion? Here's how the movie should have been.

First off, replace Rogen with someone like Bradley Cooper. Someone who is a worthwhile match for Zac Efron. Granted, Bradley Cooper is a little old for this generation, but if we are going to be fair, Zac Efron and Dave Franco are really almost at the age that the couple should be at (which is the only thing helping me sleep at night thanks to my own aging issues), so, we would have to go a little older.

Then, they should have cast a more important female to come between Dave Franco and Zac Efron -- a worthy opponent for Rose Byrne. Let's face it, the entire frat stuff was as unimportant and annoying as Dave Franco's character said it was (just like real frats), and only weakened the film. The most exciting part of the movie was when Rose Byrne's character had her "hoes-over-bros" idea and put that plan into action, because she was right -- the best way to take down a frat is to infiltrate it and get some freaky shenanigans going on with some hoes over bros (believe me. I know.) This was a much more interesting sub-story that they minimized into nothingness so we could watch Seth Rogen shake his fat belly in a "dance-off."

Then, they should have resolved the "fighting" between the neighbors sooner. Both parties should have wrecked each others lives and seen the error of their ways. For the older set, they should have seen that they would be ruining the boys chances at graduating, and then took it upon themselves to help them in any way possible to get their grades up and parent them. With the boys, they should have seen that they were breaking up a marriage, and since they were all about family, this would lead them to help reunite the couple.

And this would give the movie heart.

No one will ever remember this movie and its characters in 10 years. No one will ever remember this movie by next year. Sure, American Pie was silly, but it touched people. It had characters that stayed with you and that's why it's spawned sequel after sequel. American Pie didn't betray it's generation, it spoke for it. Neighbors spent the entire movie telling us that it's bad to be old and boring, only to flip the switch at the end and say "keep it down."

The fraternity was right to be feel betrayed. We thought they were cool, too.

Well, maybe not Seth Rogen.