Tag Archives: Superbad

Neighbors (2014)

1 Jun

We have seen a surprisingly good amount of high quality cinema for 2014, but the genre that has so far been lacking is the raunchy R-rated comedy.  Neighbors, starring Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne and Zach Efron, is the year’s first real foray into this genre and, for the most part, the hits all the tropes and cliches we have come to expect. Penis jokes? Check. Boob jokes? Check. Crazy college party with weed and booze? Double check.  Neighbors lifts so much from other kingpins of the genre (Superbad and 21 Jump Street come to mind) that there isn’t much in the film that hasn’t been done before. However, there does manage to be some original heart to film, lurking just beneath the surface, but it isn’t quite enough to make the film stand out much among its contemporaries.

The film takes place in your typical college-town suburb where newlyweds Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Byrne) are raising their cute toddler. Soon, a college fraternity house moves in next door, and the couple is introduced to the frat’s leader Teddy (Efron). All is well until Efron repeatedly refuses to turn the music down and thus a neighborly feud between two conflicting lifestyles ensues. Cops are called, weed is smoked, and things quickly escalate to an all-out war between the two sets of – wait for it – neighbors. 

While the film definitely has its great moments, (mostly by way of the on-screen chemistry from its actors and visual humor that takes the place of action) many of the jokes simply didn’t resonate, and the film lacks any real sense of drama. There are hints at underlying tension within certain characters (Mac’s unwillingness to be a family man, Teddy’s uncertainty about life after college, etc..) but these never get explored and get tossed by the wayside.  Neighbors ultimately is your typical bro-comedy, and – even when it grows a bit tired of itself in the third act – still a mostly enjoyable watch.

 

 

Rating – 6/10 

Similar to: Superbad (2007), Accepted (2006), Role Models (2008)

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Magic Magic (2013)

12 Aug

Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Silva made waves at this years Sundance Film Festival with two superb films staring Michael Cera that were both filmed on-location in Chile. Micheal Cera hasn’t always been one of my favorite actors, but his performance in Magic Magic shows he can be more than the self-conscious teen nerd he has come to be known for (Superbad, Juno, Arrested Development).

Magic Magic is the story of an American girl named Alicia (played by the always lovely Juno Temple), who visits her cousin studying in Chile.  Because of an unexpected exam, her cousin Sarah (Emily Browning) is separated, leaving Alicia to journey with a group of strangers towards a vacation home on a mysterious island. Of course, things aren’t always what they appear to be, and what starts out as an innocent trip with some friends turns into a bizarre and unforgettable journey.

What really makes this film remarkable is the wonderful casting and chemistry that this group of friends share on-screen. Michael Cera is brilliant and adds a subtle but welcoming amount of comedic relief. Juno Temple is also fabulous and creates an intense mood in the film through her performance. Emily Browning, Catalina Moreno, and Augustin Silva make a great and believable supporting characters.

Some friendly advice: if you are the type who hates spoilers then DO NOT WATCH THE TRAILER, as it gives away far too much of the plot. If you aren’t into the weird, psychological sort of films, then this might not be your cup of tea, but I think Magic Magic is one of the year’s best for it’s unpredictability, wonderful cast, and intense thrilling script.

Rating: 8/10

Similar to: Black Swan, Repulsion, Sisters

This Is the End (2013)

2 Jun

So this is what you get when you take the comedic gang from Freaks and Geeks and lock them all in a room for 24 hours. Oh, and also throw in Emma Watson and the black guy from The Office. And of course you can’t forget Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. And because it’s a post-Superbad comedy Danny McBride has to make an appearance somewhere. Also there is Paul Rudd, Aziz Ansari, and Rihanna because – hey why not?

If they would have taken half the effort in writing the story as they did in the casting, then this film would be amazing. But the randomness and senseless progression of the scenes make it feel like you are watching a bunch of strewn-together YouTube videos. Which is OK, because This Is the End actually is kinda funny, and the film works in an unpredictably offensive way.

I was hoping for something a bit more self-aware and smart in a film where actors play themselves, but instead what I got was some half-baked morality tale about humanity and religion. It is an interesting mix, and the film definitely strayed into territory I wasn’t expecting, but I was satisfied by the time the credits rolled up. If you are a fan of the genre, then this is a must-see.

6/10 stars.

Similar to: Superbad, Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder