Tuesday Releases: Neighbors

SEPTEMBER 23RD, 2014

NEIGHBORS // Unlike Adam Sandler, who, as he has gotten older, has gone from raunchy comedies to watered down family comedies, Seth Rogen continues to take steps deeper and deeper into the world of dirty comedies. As Mac, who is a loving husband to Kelly (Rose Byrne) and caring father to their little baby, Rogen pulls off this nice balance between competent adult and immature man-child thrown into an adult role. He smokes weed with his best friend during breaks at work and bargains with his wife on whether to take their baby to a rave, but when a fraternity lead by Teddy (Zac Efron) moves in next door and starts keeping little Stella (Elise and Zoey Vargas) awake at night, the papa bear comes out. What follows is a battle between different generations complete with broken water mains, huge hot boxing parties, and one of the most hilarious running gags in recent memory involving stolen automobile airbags. Bringing the likes of “Animal House” and “Old School” to the current generations, “Neighbors” is a perfect blend of physical and raunchy comedy.

Director Nicholas Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, “Get Him To The Greek”) continues his successful foray in bawdy features while also delving into both new and old themes, like male bonding, healthy and unhealthy marriages, and revenge and how far is too far. “Neighbors” never goes where you think it is going, often remaining relentless in that it never quite pays off with feel good moments one expects from this type of comedy. Although there is eventually closure between Mac and Teddy, the idea that anyone learned from the situation is definitely not apparent. Filling out the cast is Dave Franco as Teddy’s righthand man Pete, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the well endowed Scoonie, and Ike Barinholtz, who plays Mac’s coworker and scheming best friend Jimmy. Compared to recent raunchy comedies like “Let’s Be Cops” and “Anchorman 2”, Stoller’s latest film is actually a step above the rest, landing in the middle of the spectrum, where it does not quite claim classic status but produces enough consistent laughs to evoke multiple viewings.

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THE ROVER // Post-apocalypse has become so many things in cinema. Whether it is zombies or the fallout of some catastrophe, Hollywood seems obsessed with the idea. Flooding the theaters with these films, it becomes rare for any of these them to stand out. What becomes key is subtlety. Parring down, focusing on the characters rather than the changing world around them, and “The Rover” is the prime example of how to make a post-apocalyptic film stand out. Starring Guy Pearce as Eric, we meet him pulling up to the remnants of a bar in his vehicle. It is when a Jeep flips over outside the bar and the men inside the Jeep steal Eric’s car that the film is set into motion. The men inside the Jeep have come from a shootout, where one of the men, Henry (Scoot McNairy) left his brother Reynolds (Robert Pattinson) behind, believing him to be dead. As Eric chases after these men in order to get his car back, he ends up coming across Reynolds, who turns out to be a half-wit that Eric manipulates in order to get him to rat on the location of his brother and the stolen car.

Instead of focusing on the world the world around them, director and writer David Michôd hones in on the emotions of the characters and how those relate to the new world. The audience is never quite sure how these men used to be, but now, a wild west mentality sends them on an excursion along the deserted Australian highways. Tension and a bit of mystery drive Michôd’s vision, with Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson delivering two of the very best performances of their career, with Pattinson able to break his typecast following his years of young adult adaptations; his character’s mental shortcomings working in his favor. The Australian outback lends itself as the perfect stage for a post-apocalyptic world, complete with decaying buildings and nothingness as far as the eye can see. What really expresses Michôd’s craft, however, is the punctuation at the end of the film; a subtle reveal as to why Eric goes through all the trouble of getting his car back, bringing the entire film to an emotional head. Landing the dismount of a narrative film is becoming more and more of a craft, and nailing the perfect conclusion can sometimes make an above average film appear almost perfect and “The Rover” proves this to be true, causing a giant smile and reassurance of the subtlety that makes this one of the best films of the year.

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THE SIGNAL // Actor Brenton Thwaites has been on a roll lately. Most recently you have seen him as the leading role in “The Giver”, playing Jonas alongside Jeff Bridges’ title character, before that he made a brief appearance in “Maleficent” as the prince, and the first thing I saw him in this year was Mike Flanagan’s horror film “Oculus”. Add to that science fiction film “The Signal”, where he also stars lead alongside Olivia Cooke and Laurence Fishburne, and Thwaites has had quite the impressive year already. The reason a film like “The Signal” is so important to a blossoming actor is that there is an emotional level that science fiction helps push those actors past. In science fiction, there are no boundaries and that proves extremely true with this out of the box, sci-fi thriller.

At the film’s heart, “The Signal” is a love story. Nic (Brenton Thwaites) is about to lose his girlfriend, Haley (Olivia Cooke), as they road trip from Massachusetts to drop her off in California along with their hacker friend Jonah (Beau Knapp). With his muscular dystrophy already distancing himself from her, Nic sees Haley’s move as a death sentence to their relationship. Deciding to take a detour in order to expose a fellow hacker with the moniker NOMAD who almost got them expelled from MIT prior to the start of the film, they find themselves in an abandoned house somewhere in the Nevada desert. When Haley goes missing from the car, all three of them find themselves pulled into the air by some unknown force. Waking up in an underground research facility lead by Dr. William Damon (Laurence Fishburne), Nic has been separated from his friends and is told they have all been exposed to an EBE (extra-terrestrial biological entity) and must remain here to be studied. The reveals that follow come in true science fiction fashion as Nic grows paranoid, tries to find Haley, and eventually attempts to escape the facility.

Completely comfortable in his surroundings, Brenton Thwaites proves his full versatility in this role alone. Helped immensely by the overbearing nature of Laurence Fishburne, who is no stranger to science fiction, Thwaites commits fully to the emotions of the role and the picture of him screaming is proof enough of the levels he is willing to go. Fishburne provides the much needed star power to guide the film along and rides the line perfectly between caring HAZMAT suit wearing scientist and potential villain. Another standout performance comes from Olivia Cooke, who has also seen her star rise this year. Cooke may not have much of a performance as she remains in a coma through most of the facility scenes, but offering up enough emotion in the opening sequences as well as the flashbacks provides the audience with something to hold on to. In its conclusion, “The Signal” delivers in true science fiction form and even though the reveal does not quite going for the turn less traveled, the visual styles and dark toned themes really make this a memorable science fiction jaunt.

New Releases
The Calling
Neighbors
The Rover
The Signal
Very Good Girls
We Are The Best 2-denied2-small

TV Box Set

  • The 100: Season One
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season One   
  • China Beach: Season Four
  • Defiance: Season Two
  • How I Met Your Mother: Season Nine   
  • Key & Peele: Season Three
  • L.A. Law: Season Three
  • Law & Order SVU: Season Fifteen
  • Mama’s Family: Season Five
  • Modern Family: Season Five   
  • Mom: Season One   
  • Nashville: Season Two   huluplus
  • Necessary Roughness: Season Three
  • Reign: Season One
  • Robotech: Classic Collection V1
  • Royal Pains: Season Five
  • Scandal: Season Three   
  • State Trooper: The Complete Series
  • The Tom and Jerry Show: Season One, Part One
Special Editions/Other Releases
  • After (2014)   2-denied2-small
  • American Slave
  • The Bachelor Weekend  2-denied2-small
  • The Big Sleep (1978)
  • Bloody Mama
  • Bold Eagles
  • Collapse
  • Come Morning
  • Daisy: A Hen Into the Wild
  • Danger Dolls
  • Deep Case Pending
  • Distant Drums
  • Elementary Genocide
  • Elmer Gantry
  • Fighters Ballad
  • Firestorm
  • Flesh and Blood (1985)
  • Fort McCoy
  • Found (2012)   2-denied2-small
  • Free the Mind   
  • Game of Assassins
  • Geek War
  • Ghost in the Shell: 25th Anniversary
  • Halloween: The Complete Collection
  • Hit and Stay
  • The Innocents
  • Jake’s Road
  • Julius Caesar Against The Pirates
  • Jump In (2014)
  • The Last of the Unjust
  • Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher
  • The Little Ghost
  • Macbeth: Criterion
  • The Minnesota Delivery
  • Mummy I’m a Zombie
  • My Name Is A By Anonymous
  • Neighbors (1981)
  • Off Season (2012)
  • Paranormal Captivity
  • Paris-Manhattan
  • Postman Pat: The Movie  2-denied2-small
  • Producer Sam
  • Rise Up Black Man
  • Run Silent, Run Deep
  • Saw: The Complete Movie Collection
  • See You Next Tuesday
  • South of St. Louis
  • Stagefright   2-denied2-small
  • Taras Bulba
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • Unsung Heroes
  • Unwanted Presence
  • A Vault of Victims
  • WER
  • Where’s the Fair
  • Young Savages

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