REVIEW: Neighbors

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Neighbors
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller
Written by: Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien
Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron and Dave Franco

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are disarmingly excellent in Neighbors.  Their performances are so fluid and in sync that they take what would otherwise be an amusing, sometimes audacious series of physical gags and ground it with their portrait of a convincing young marriage. The poster sells a macho showdown between a millennial frat boy (Zac Efron) and a pothead-turned-dad (Rogen), and while that feud is very much at the core of the movie Byrne’s character is in on the raunchy scheming, too.

Andrew J. Coehn and Brendan O’Brien’s script switches effortlessly between the two worlds next door to each other.  Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Byrne) are a younger couple who moved to suburbia to “grow up.”  Not long after they move in, Teddy Sanders (Efron) and his frat brothers turn the house next door into a non-stop rave.  The movie leans heavily on their somewhat elaborate frat party set pieces, with a blacklight rave and Robert DeNiro-themed mixers.

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CANNES REVIEW: The Paperboy

The Paperboy
Directed by: Lee Daniels
Written by: Lee Daniels & Peter Dexter (screenplay), Peter Dexter (novel)
Starring: Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman and John Cusack

The morning screening of Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy was greeted with loud boos as well as sincere applause at Cannes, embracing the inevitable debate that will likely follow it when it washes up in the U.S.  It is a highly stylized look at 1960s Florida that transports the fashion and the social constraints without laying it on too thick.

Daniels’ directs the hell out of the movie, deconstructing the typical murder thriller plot into something that deliberately denies the audience a satisfactory conclusion.  There are scenes that wildly break the tone and stick out like a sore thumb, like a decidedly awkward, sort-of sexual early encounter between Nicole Kidman’s Charlotte and her imprisoned flame Hillary (John Cusack) during their visitation in front of his lawyers.

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