Neighbors hits theaters today, and I really want you to go see it.
This is a film like This is The End, 21 Jump Street or Forgetting Sarah Marshall - in other words, far funnier than it has any right to be. And the reason those movies work so well is that, beneath the belly laughs, we find relatable characters who care about each other, and we find that we care about them, too. Neighbors is no different. And it's not just the young, fun couple played by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne that we're rooting for - against all odds, I found myself sympathizing with Zac Efron's frat boy, a kid who's the king of college and has no idea who he's going to be after graduation.
But I'm definitely pulling for Byrne more than any of the dudes in this film. She's the reason I've seen Neighbors twice already, and I expect I'll see it a third time before it's out of theaters. Kelly is such an unexpected, brilliant character, so different from any of the usual long-suffering, gorgeous women married to the harebrained schlubs we see in all of these movies. And, without spoiling anything, there's one scene in the film that makes it clear that director Nicholas Stoller and screenwriters Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien knew exactly what they were doing when they crafted this character.
In this scene, Rogen's Mac is chastising Kelly for not keeping him in line as the stakes escalate in their war against the frat house. He tells her it's her job to rein him in: "Haven't you seen any Kevin James movies? I'm Kevin James!" While this is a good joke, what I really love is Kelly's dogged response that she's also the Kevin James in this marriage.
A relationship with two Kevin Jameses is clearly a recipe for calamity, and that's where Neighbors ends up taking us. But the change in this dynamic - Byrne's silly, untempered recklessness up against Rogen's usual lovable screwup - feels entirely fresh. Kelly's not some sensible drag out to ruin Mac's fun. They're both idiots, and they're both maniacs, and they're perfect for each other.
But no more words here! You guys will see the movie and know what I mean. If you haven't already, read my review from SXSW, and go check out Neighbors this weekend.