The Disaster Artist

December 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen
Directed by: James Franco (“Child of God,” “As I Lay Dying”)
Written by: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber (“500 Days of Summer,” “The Fault in Our Stars”)

“The Disaster Artist,” a comedy documenting the creation of the cult-classic film “The Room,” is based on the book of the same name by co-star Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell. Over the years, I’ve become intimately familiar with both stories: the over-the-top tale of the film featuring Johnny and his love for Lisa, undone by her infidelity with Johnny’s best friend Mark, and the book featuring the equally over-the-top tale of how the batshit movie came to be.

The film, like the book, chronicles the meeting of Tommy Wiseau (James Franco), a mysterious man with an inscrutable accent and long black hair who looks much older than he says he is, and Greg (Dave Franco), a fresh-faced 19-year-old struggling to make it as an actor in San Francisco in the late ’90s.

Tommy and Greg become friends–in Tommy’s case, Greg is really his only friend–and move to Los Angeles to make it big as actors, despite Tommy’s eccentric behavior and his cryptic warnings to Greg to not tell anyone anything about him and his increasing jealousy of seemingly anything Greg gets that he doesn’t, like an agent, or something that steals Greg’s attention, like a girlfriend.

After they both struggle to find work, Tommy vows to write a film for he and Greg to star in and, with Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” as his inspiration, Tommy bangs out the script for “The Room” and digs into what one character calls a “bottomless pit” of money to produce his “All-American” vision his way, including the unorthodox practice of buying film equipment over leasing it and using it to shoot film and HD video side-by-side.

Tommy himself and the script for the film baffle crew members, including the script supervisor and de facto director Sandy (Seth Rogen) and director of photography Raphael (Paul Scheer), who both nearly quit over Tommy’s outrageous behavior, only to be talked out of it by Greg, the checks that are still clearing, and the notion that no one will see the film anyway.

Of course, the film saw the light of day in 2003 and became a midnight sensation thanks to Tommy’s paying to keep it in theaters (to qualify for the Academy Awards!) and an infamous, ominous billboard that lorded over Hollywood for more than a decade.

Easily his best film as a director to date (most of them are really weird and terrible), James Franco also disappears incredibly into Tommy, making him more than just a weird accent and greasy black hair, but also leaving the mystery of Tommy effectively intact. Sure, the audience might want to know some simple things like where Tommy came from, where he gets his money, and just how old he is–but the real Wiseau has never publicly revealed that either.

Franco’s wonderful performance, like the film itself, is easily on par with the Johnny Depp-Tim Burton biopic “Ed Wood,” that film a career-best turn for both, about a delusional, never-give-up director of terrible-yet-sincere movies that share DNA with “The Room.”

The question remains if “The Disaster Artist” will play to a crowd that isn’t familiar with “The Room” and all of its foibles. As someone who has seen “The Room” a dozen times or so, this question is difficult to answer, but without a doubt “The Disaster Artist” is delightfully hilarious and, like the inimitable Tommy Wiseau, has genuine heart.

Bonus Episode 13: The Disaster Artist with Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

December 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Podcast

 

It’s a very special “The Disaster Artist” themed bonus episode of The CineSnob Podcast. First up, Cody and Jerrod talk to friend of the show Greg Sestero as he returns to catch us up on the past 2 years of seeing his memoir about the making of “The Room” turned into a major motion picture.

Next, the boys talk with co-author of the book Tom Bissell about how he stumbled upon “The Room,” exploring Tommy Wiseau’s past, and how he helped Greg tell the story of his friendship with Tommy.

Click here to download the episode!

SXSW Review: The Disaster Artist

March 14, 2017 by  
Filed under CineBlog

“The Disaster Artist,” a comedy documenting the creation of the cult-classic film “The Room,” often called “the worst movie ever made,” received a standing ovation from a crowd at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, where the film screened for South By Southwest as a work in progress.

Director and star James Franco, who plays the enigmatic Tommy Wiseau, was on hand along with producing partner Seth Rogen (who has a role as an exasperated script supervisor in the film) and Franco’s brother Dave, who plays Wiseau’s best friend and “The Room” co-star Greg Sestero.

(The actual Tommy Wiseau an Greg Sestero were in attendance as well, receiving a standing ovation themselves as they took the stage for a post-show Q&A.)

The film, based on the book “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever” by Sestero and Tom Bissell, chronicles the meeting of Wiseau, a mysterious man with an inscrutable accent and long black hair who looks much older than he says he is, and Greg, a fresh-faced 19-year-old struggling to make it as an actor San Francisco in the late ’90s.

Tommy and Greg become friends–in Tommy’s case, Greg is really his only friend–and move to Los Angeles to make it big as actors, despite Tommy’s eccentric behavior and his cryptic warnings to Greg to not tell anyone anything about him and his increasing jealousy of seemingly anything Greg gets that he doesn’t, like an agent, or something that steals Greg’s attention, like a girlfriend.

After they both struggle to find work, Tommy vows to write a film for he and Greg to star in and, with Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” as his inspiration, Tommy bangs out the script for “The Room” and digs into what one character calls a “bottomless pit” of money to produce his “All-American” vision his way, including the unorthodox practice of buying film equipment over leasing it and using it to shoot film and HD video side-by-side.

Tommy himself and the script for the film baffle crew members, including the script supervisor and de facto director Sandy (Rogen) and director of photography Raphael (Paul Scheer), who both nearly quit over Tommy’s outrageous behavior, only to be talked out of it by Greg, the checks that are still clearing, and the notion that no one will see the film anyway.

Of course, the film saw the light of day in 2003 and became a midnight sensation thanks to Tommy’s paying to keep it in theaters (to qualify for the Academy Awards) and an infamous, ominous billboard that lorded over Hollywood for more than a decade.

Easily his best film as a director to date (most of them are really weird and terrible), James Franco also disappears incredibly into Tommy, making him more than just a weird accent and greasy black hair, but also leaving the mystery of Tommy effectively intact. Sure, the audience might want to know some simple things like where Tommy came from, where he gets his money, and just how old he is–but the real Wiseau has never publicly revealed that either.

Franco’s wonderful performance, like the film itself, is easily on par with the Johnny Depp-Tim Burton biopic “Ed Wood,” a career-best turn for both, about a delusional, never-give-up director of terrible-yet-sincere movies that share DNA with “The Room.”

The question remains if “The Disaster Artist,” still technically not complete and a little scraggly in the middle, will play to a crowd that isn’t familiar with “The Room” and all of its foibles. The audience at SXSW was certainly made up of devotees (myself included), loudly cheering and laughing at every recreated line and situation (the original film screened right after the Q&A wrapped up…I didn’t stay for that).

Regardless, “The Disaster Artist” is delightfully hilarious and, like the inimitable Tommy Wiseau, has genuine heart.

Ep. 86 – Sausage Party, Gleason, and a whole bunch of rambling

August 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Podcast

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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, a hyper-lucid Cody chats with Jerrod about “Sausage Party,” “Gleason,” “Stranger Things,” Kyle Chandler, and a whole lot of other random stuff while Kiko is enjoying the Olympic games somewhere.

 

[00:00-36:41] Intro/South Park tease/random chatting

[36:41-48:58] Sausage Party review

[48:58-55:54] Gleason review

[55:54-1:04:42] Wrap up/tease

Click here to download the episode!

Sausage Party

August 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: voices of Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Nick Kroll
Directed by: Greg Tiernan (debut) and Conrad Vernon (“Shrek 2”)
Written by: Seth Rogen (“Neighbors 2”), Evan Goldberg (“This is the End”), Kyle Hunter (“The Night Before”) Ariel Shaffir (“The Night Before”)

Ever since the arrival of “Toy Story” two decades ago, computer animated films have routinely included jokes that were arguably just meant for the inevitable adults in the audience. Essentially this is to keep parents entertained while the kids enjoyed whatever Pixar or DreamWorks pumped out, occasionally catching a joke lobbed over the heads of the children in the audience—nothing outright offensive ever makes the cut, but something slightly naughty isn’t off the table.

Perhaps sensing an opening in the market, Sony and frequent collaborators Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg set out to fill the void (heh!) and have whipped out (giggle!) an animated movie that adults with a hankering for something filthy they could come to (chortle!) in “Sausage Party,” a movie you definitely shouldn’t take your kids to. Or do, what do I care?

As the inhabitants of a grocery store, various foodstuffs, led by a hot dog named Frank (Seth Rogen) and his hot dog bun girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig), await their being chosen by the gods (read: humans) to being taken to The Great Beyond (a.k.a. outside the store) to live in paradise. With July 4th rapidly approaching, now is the prime time for hot dogs and buns to make it to eternal salvation. Frank’s faith is rattled, however, when a bottle of honey mustard (Danny McBride) is returned to the store with tales of horror from The Great Beyond. It’s not paradise, it’s a hell where food gets eaten by the gods. Frank and Brenda, along with some Palestinian flat bread (David Krumholtz) and a Jewish bagel (Edward Norton), set out to enlighten the food in the supermarket that the afterlife isn’t like the tales they’ve been told.

While undeniably laugh-out-loud hilarious at times, “Sausage Party” is never quite as funny or quite as edgy as it thinks it is. Viewers could be excused for thinking the film would feature wall-to-wall food sex, thanks to the marketing, but that stuff is saved for after the climax (ha!). What we get instead is vulgar language coming from the mouths of anthropomorphic food and, most unexpectedly, a commentary on the societal dangers of both blind faith and militant atheism—which is a little jarring if you thought you were just coming to watch a movie where a hot dog fucks a bun, you know?

That aside, even at just around 90 minutes, “Sausage Party” starts to drag thanks to a limp (resigned chuckle!) second act that finally gives way to all out weirdness and brutality in a subplot featuring Michael Cera’s Barry, a deformed hot dog who finds out firsthand what happens in The Great Beyond. It’s during a sequence involving a burnout human, a ragtag bunch of junk foods, and the hallucinogenic power of bath salts that the film really turns into the naughty version of a Pixar film promised all along. This sensibility informs the rest of the movie, thankfully, turning the third act into a gleefully demented battle before petering out into some weird stoner shit. That a movie exists where animated grocery items curse, have sex, and engage in racial stereotyping (from a major studio!) is amazing, frankly. With a little more stamina leading up to the climax (heh—wait, used that one) “Sausage Party” could have been legendary.

Ep. 80 – Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, The Nice Guys, casting announcements for Thor: Ragnarok and Spider-Man: Homecoming, the new Star Trek Beyond trailer, and where to hear us on the radio!

May 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Podcast

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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod are as sharp as ever as they review “€œNeighbors 2: Sorority Rising”€ and “The Nice Guys.”€ They also expertly tackle new casting announcements for a pair of Marvel films, “Thor: Ragnarok”€ and “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”€ Also, they tell where you can hear more of this aural mastery on the radio!

[00:00-10:16] Intro/”RiffTrax Live: Time Chasers”€ recap

[10:16-22:41] News: casting announcements for “Thor: Ragnarok” and “€œSpider-Man: Homecoming”

[22:41-30:39] Final “€œStar Trek Beyond”€ trailer reaction

[30:39-42:16] Reviews: “€œNeighbors 2: Sorority Rising”

[42:16-53:55] “The Nice Guys”

[53:55-1:02:56] Wrap up/tease

Click here to download the episode!

Kung Fu Panda 3

January 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, J.K. Simmons
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh (“Kung Fu Panda 2”) and Alessandro Carloni (debut)
Written by: Jonathan Aibel (“Kung Fu Panda 2”) and Glenn Berger (“Kung Fun Panda 2”)

How do you make the third installment of an animated panda bear series even more adorable than the first two movies? Add a handful of fat baby pandas to the mix and give them plenty of dumplings to devour. Such is the case with “Kung Fu Panda 3” as hero panda Po (Jack Black) teams up once again with the Furious Five – Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Crane (David Cross) – to defeat an evil villain set to run amok across China.

While the aforementioned cast does another fantastic job with their voice work, specifically Black as the clumsy leader whose on the job training as the Dragon Warrior is working out pretty well, it’s the new talent brought onto this sequel that really makes it memorable. This includes recent Oscar-nominated actor Bryan Cranston (“Trumbo”) as Li, Po’s long lost biological father who finds Po and returns him to his panda roots, and Oscar winner J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”) as Kai, a villainous bull set on stealing the life force (“chi”) of anyone who gets in his way. Also, keep your eye out for the scene-stealing and hilarious Mei Mei (Kate Hudson), a female ribbon dancing panda bear who takes quite a liking to a less-than-interested Po.

The narrative is warm and light enough in “Kung Fu Panda 3,” although much of the story isn’t what anyone would really consider original. What still stands out, however, is the incredible animation DreamWorks has been able to create with this franchise. The world of “Kung Fu Panda” is even more visually striking than it was when the original film hit theaters in 2008. The animation studio’s perfect combination of computer generated and 2-D work is brilliant and each character, old and new, feels fresh and exceptionally vibrant. Some of the most impressive animated scenes, much like in the last two movies, take place when animators slow down the action right in the middle of a fast-paced fight sequence so audiences can see the finer points of the battle – the splintering of a wooden pole that just got punched or someone getting a roundhouse kick to the jaw.

An overall comparison between “Kung Fun Panda 3” and its predecessors would leave this recent animated movie lagging behind in storytelling, although the father/son messaging is pleasant enough, but there’s no denying DreamWorks is making a stand against powerhouses like Pixar and Disney. Just as long as they can stop producing schlock like last year’s ill conceived “Home,” DreamWorks will still be in the conversation when the big players are mentioned.

The Night Before

November 20, 2015 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anthony Mackie
Directed by: Jonathan Levine (“50/50”)
Written by: Jonathan Levine (“The Wackness”) and Kyle Hunter (debut) & Ariel Shaffir (debut) and Evan Goldberg (“Superbad”)

As Christmas rolls around every year, three buddies – Isaac (Seth Rogen) Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and Chris (Anthony Mackie) – convene to hit up different traditional Christmas things around New York City, like the Rockefeller Center tree, FAO Schwartz, et cetera. It’s a tradition they started 15 years ago to cheer up Ethan after the tragic loss of his parents to a car accident, but as they’ve grown older and acquired careers and families of their own, they mutually agree to shut the celebration down after one last drug-fueled blowout culminating in a mythical Jay Gatsby-level party known as The Nutcracka Ball.

Look, it’s not as if “The Night Before” is without laughs, but they are all centered on Rogen’s character, tripping balls throughout the night on a box of drugs given to him by his wife (Jillian Bell) as one last hurrah before their daughter is born. Gordon-Levitt’s Ethan is saddled with the maudlin story of a lonely man-child and a half-cooked relationship backstory with former long-term girlfriend Diana (Lizzy Caplan), and Anthony Mackie’s Chris – apparently a star NFL player! – spends the majority of the runtime doing things no person of his caliber of fame could or would do, like walking around NYC almost unnoticed and buying weed from a small-time drug dealer. Its Mackie’s story that draws into relief the biggest problem with the film: it just doesn’t go as far off the deep end into insanity as it should. Flashes of absurdity, like the ultimate resolution of Michael Shannon’s creepy pot merchant or the welcome, weird narration from Tracy Morgan, are nice touches that pepper a rushed, unfocused narrative.

Director Jonathan Levine, who expertly weaved comedy and drama together with Gordon-Levitt and Rogen in 2011’s excellent “50/50,” seems intent on turning in a mash-up of that film and “Pineapple Express,” and the result is about as messy and scattershot as you would expect from that description. Hilarious hallucinogenic freak outs are butted up against would-be poignant scenes of a young man dealing with his parents’ untimely death, only to be followed by another hilarious and inadvertent conversation about dick pics. But with the clashes of tone, a narrative that makes too little sense and has too few laughs to bail it out, “The Night Before” arrives under the tree as a big box of not enough of what anyone wants.

Steve Jobs

October 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen
Directed by: Danny Boyle (“127 Hours”)
Written by: Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”)

Never mind that Oscar-nominated actor Michael Fassbender (“12 Years a Slave”) looks nothing like the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. We all know from the uninspired 2013 biopic “Jobs,” which starred Ashton Kutcher in the title role, how making that the priority can end up not having much of an effect on the final product, especially when the script is about as interesting as binary code. Fortunately, in the latest Steve Jobs biography, aptly titled “Steve Jobs,” the screenplay and Fassbender are the stars of the show and give the iconic computer genius a film worthy of his contribution to the tech industry.

Based on the book by of the same name by Walter Isaacson, Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”), delivers the type of fast-paced, sharp Sorkinesque dialogue he’s been known for throughout his career. Like his character Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network,” Sorkin has another larger-than-life leading man to express his biting quips and sarcasm as well as some heartfelt emotion into Fassbender’s Jobs. Sorkin also sets Jobs’ story in a unique way very few writers would dare to attempt when tackling the life of a man most would need a miniseries to capture truthfully.

In “Steve Jobs,” Sorkin takes audiences into Jobs’ life during three prominent milestones of his career – the 1984 launch of the Macintosh, the 1988 launch of the NeXT computer, and the 1998 launch of the iMac. Each of these “backstage” vignettes transports moviegoers into the inner workings of the high-profile launches and examines how Jobs handled the pressure of each event. We also get an incredible glimpse at Jobs’ interaction with Apple coworkers, most notably his longtime assistant Joanna (a wonderful Kate Winslet), who is the most consistent figure in his life, and his role as a reluctant father to his young estranged daughter he refuses to recognize.

Sorkin paints a thought-provoking picture of Jobs. Much of it is not a flattering one for his personality, but it does sing his praises as someone who is able to take control of any situation and be the conductor of his own symphony, as Sorkin so skillfully writes. While Danny Boyle does a satisfactory job at staging these events, nothing screams out that this is a Boyle film. Still, with Fassbender leading the way in this dialogue-heavy drama, “Steve Jobs” says a lot more than the average cradle-to-the-grave story. It might be Fassbender’s symphony, but Sorkin’s the maestro of the entire suite.

Ep. 67 – Steve Jobs, reaction to the new Star Wars trailer, Chris Rock is hosting the Oscars, and Edgar Wright is teaming up with Johnny Depp, Neil Gaiman, and Bret McKenzie

October 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Podcast

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In this week’s episode of The CineSnob Podcast, the guys talk about “Steve Jobs,” their reactions to the final “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer, Chris Rock returning to host the Oscars, and the perfect storm of Edgar Wright directing Johnny Depp in an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s “Fortunately, The Milk” written by Bret McKenzie.

[0:00-12:37] Intro, weather talk, podcasting-over-Skype woes, and Kiko is somewhere noisy.
[12-37-24:33] Reactions to the final “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer
[24:33-33:29] Chris Rock returns to host the Oscars
[33:29-39:13] Edgar Wright and Johnny Depp to team up for “Fortunately, The Milk”
[39:13-56:30] Steve Jobs
[56:30-1:09:37] Wrap up/tease next episode

Click here to download the episode!

The Interview

December 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Randall Park
Directed by: Evan Goldberg (“This is the End”) and Seth Rogen (“This is the End”)
Written by: Dan Sterling (debut)

Following a bizarre amalgamation of Hollywood controversy and serious political incidents over the last six months, Sony Pictures, in a quick and unforeseen move after pulling “The Interview” from its docket for a Christmas Day release, decided to drop the film on a handful of VOD platforms Christmas Eve afternoon, and allow theaters that still wanted to screen their film on Dec. 25 to do so. What changed the minds of Sony executives is still unclear (Barack Obama’s wagging finger of disappointment? George Clooney’s smackdown on Sony via – ironically – an interview with Deadline), but at least moviegoers (and VOD users) can put everything behind them and enjoy a classic assassination comedy comprised of enough jokes about assholes to make your grandma blush this holiday season.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, “The Interview” stars James Franco and Seth Rogen as Dave Skylark and Aaron Rapaport, a host and producer of a fluff TV show where getting celebrities to drop juicy TMZ-worthy bombshells is the name of the game. When Dave and Aaron find out they have been given the opportunity to interview North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, they jump at the chance to do some real journalism. The CIA, however, step in and insists that Dave and Aaron kill the North Korean leader during their planned visit.

Although inconsistent with its humor, there are major portions of “The Interview” that are gut-busting funny, especially during the first half where we’re introduced to Dave and Aaron and what their TV job entails and the set up for their trip to North Korea. Franco and Rogen play off one another with ease even when some of the jokes barely register and when the middle part of the movie begins to drag. Keeping up with both is actor Randall Park who plays Jong-un just as the script asks – a lonely and oftentimes sympathetic character that is also lined with playboy tendencies and venom running through his veins, which doesn’t figure into the story until the third act. It’s an interesting and somewhat bold characterization for Jong-un by screenwriter Dan Sterling, who could’ve taken the easy route and made him the kind of fat, pouting diaper-baby Americans love to imagine he is. Sterling finds a lot more comedy in scenes where Dave and Jong-un can pal around and find they have things in common with each other before the shit hits the fan.

Don’t expect some sort of biting satire about the evils of North Korea and the real-life insane man that runs the country. Directors Evan Goldberg and Rogen aren’t those kind of storytellers (if that were the case, we would’ve seen some damning message in their Book of Revelations-inspired comedy “This is the End”). Instead, go into “The Interview” expecting pop culture references to be at an all-time high, hilarious one-liners and someone sticking something large up their rectum. Wouldn’t we be in a better place if that combination was the catalyst for fostering peace and security across the globe?

Neighbors

May 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Seth Rogen, Zach Efron, Rose Byrne
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Get Him to the Greek”)
Written by:  Andrew J. Cohen (debut) and Brendan O’Brien (debut)

There’s a strange trend affecting this generation’s comedy films. Each of them seems to front-load the laughs while setting the story in motion, only to sputter around near the end, sacrificing jokes in a scrambling effort to pick up some small plot thread and see it through to the end. It’s not that I expect comedies full of cussing and boobs to be tightly-plotted pieces of clockwork, but the shaggy dog nature of a movie featuring a bunch of funny people being funny can turn sloppy in a hurry. “Neighbors,” featuring the shaggiest of the shaggy dogs Seth Rogen squaring off against pretty boy Zac Efron, doesn’t manage to avoid this formula either, but at least it’s funny enough to not matter.

As a 30-something couple with a young baby and a house they’ve sunk all their money into, Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) feel as though their social lives as they knew them are gone forever. Even when plans are made to party with friends, Mac and Kelly can’t even pack up all of the baby’s things before exhaustion takes over. More worries arise when the vacant house next door becomes home to a frat house led by alpha male Teddy (Efron) and his best friend/second in command Pete (Dave Franco.) Thinking the Delta Psi boys will be a constant source of sleepless nights, Mac and Kelly venture next door to make friends and ask that they keep the noise to a minimum. Teddy agrees, but on one condition: should the frat get too rowdy, Mac and Kelly are to call him first, not the police. The agreement is put to the test the very next night, however after numerous calls, Mac can’t reach Teddy, so he calls the police. Betrayed, Teddy starts a war with Mac and Kelly, who in turn scheme to get the frat dissolved by the university.

Story-wise, “Neighbors” starts to lose steam about a half hour in, pretty much as soon as the feuding begins, leaving the middle of the film feeling undercooked and mushy. Director Nicholas Stoller doesn’t quite seem to know what to do with the warring neighbors at first, throwing some hilarious absurdity into the mix when, after Mac takes an axe to a pipe to flood their basement, Delta Psi raises an insane amount of money selling dildos molded from their own penises, earning enough from the sale to fix the basement and buy a hot tub and outdoor speakers. That’s followed up by the Delta Psi’s weirdly menacing Robert DeNiro party, wherein every member dresses as a different Robert DeNiro film character and just stares in Mac and Kelly’s living room, muttering DeNiro catchphrases. These jokes are highbrow and funny as hell, but that tone is later dropped for more run-of-the-mill shenanigans. And you know what? It’s still funny as hell.

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