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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Neighbors

September 22nd, 2014

Neighbors - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack

This summer was terrible at the box office with no $250 million hits throughout the summer until Guardians of the Galaxy opened in August. That said, there were a number of smaller movies that did quite well at the box office. Neighbors, for instance, cost less than $20 million to make, but pulled in $150 million at the box office. Was it a hit because of its quality? Or did it benefit from the weakness in the tentpole releases?

The Movie

We meet Mac and Kelly trying to have sex. I say trying, because they have a new kid and their infant daughter interrupts them, so fun time is over. When Mac heads to work, he and Kelly see a real estate agent showing off the house next door to a gay couple. At work, Mac is unengaged. It also seems that he's not longer connecting with his friends, like Jimmy his co-worker, because he's got a kid, and none of the rest of his friends do. They are desperate enough to hang onto their pre-kid day, that Paula, another friend and Jimmy's ex, actually convinces them to take their daughter out with them. This is a terrible plan, but fortunately by the time they get ready to go out, they fall asleep.

The next day, the pair of them see their new neighbors move in. At first they hope it is a couple, but they quickly realize it is a frat. This is a nightmare and at first they decide to go over there and make sure these frats boys know this is a respectable neighborhood and they won't put up with loud parties. Then they decide to go over there and act like they are still young and cool... while still asking them to keep it down. It actually works. Teddy, the leader of this chapter of the Frat, and his second in command, Pete, tell Mac and Kelly that if the Frat gets too loud, just talk to them and they will take care of it.

Problem solved. Movie over. ... Not quite.

We switch focus to the Frat where Teddy explains the illustrious history of the Delta Psi fraternity, who apparently invented the Toga Party and Beer Pong. However, for this chapter to go down in history and enter the Delta Psi Hall of Fame, they need to throw a legendary year end party. To celebrate the idea of a year end party, they throw a party... and then wake up Mac and Kelly. When Mac and Kelly go over there to ask them to turn down the music, Teddy does so, just like he said he would. He's even cool enough to ask Mac and Kelly to stay for the party, which they do. Teddy is clearly a stand-up guy.

Unfortunately, the next party the Delta Psi frat throws also gets out of hand and this time Mac and Kelly can't get hold of Teddy, so eventually they are forced to call the cops to get them to help turn down the noise. When the cops do show up, they inform Teddy about who called them. This turns what was a neighborly relationship into a tense one, one that quickly escalates from simple pranks to much more.

It also escalates into spoiler territory, so we will end the plot summary there.

I few years ago I mentioned a list I read on the internet on the 25 biggest stars under 25 years old. Nearly half of the list came from three franchises: Harry Potter, Twilight, and High School Musical. Zac Efron was on that list. I thought this was a terrible idea at the time, because it is really, really hard to figure out who is going to be a star based on a hit franchise. However, I think it is safe to say now that he will be a star. All three lead actors in the movie, him, Seth Rogen, and Rose Byrne are all excellent in their respective roles.

It also helps that the trio have a lot of material to work with, as the writing is equally excellent. A lot of the movie is a Frat comedy and it does this portion very well, but the script also concentrates on the aspects of growing up. In the end, our two new parents realize that being adults is actually great, while Teddy learns the value of taking responsibility. It makes the movie very different to most Frat comedies, as growing up is usually seen as the enemy. On the other hand, this aspect of the movie does make it seem a little safer than usual and this makes it a little less funny than it might otherwise be. But I think the overall trade-off was worth it.

The Extras

There are not a ton of extras on the DVD and Blu-ray, but enough that it doesn't feel like a weakness. For instance, there is no audio commentary track, which is disappointing. The DVD does have Line-o-Rama, which is a bunch of alternate lines, which is common in the Judd Apatow style comedies. There is also a gag reel and two featurettes. The Blu-ray has 13-minutes of deleted / alternative scenes. There is also a seven-minute long alternative opening. Finally, there is a featurette on the history of Frats and behind-the-scenes featurette.

The technical presentation is excellent. I have no complaints. I thought I would have complaints to make about the party scenes, because darker scenes usually lose a lot of details, but that wasn't the case here. The level of details and the contrast, not to mention the colors, all stood out in these scenes. The audio is also strong and again the party scenes are highlights. The dialogue is clear, even with the loud music, and there is plenty of activity in the surround sound speakers.

The Blu-ray costs $20, which is $3 or 18% more than the DVD.

The Verdict

Neighbors is one of the better comedies I've seen this year and if you are a fan of Judd Apatow buddy comedies, then it is worth picking up. The DVD or Blu-ray combo pack has enough extras to raise the overall value, but not enough to be a contender for Pick of the Week.

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Filed under: Video Review, Neighbors, Harry Potter, High School Musical, Twilight, Ike Barinholtz, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Seth Rogen, Carla Gallo, Dave Franco