Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

11 January 2015

It Isn't Automatically Cooler to Be Older: You Actually Have to Stay Cool

I am fairly certain that I love Zac Efron as much if not more than the average thirtysomething homosexual, but even Zac Efron was not enough to rescue Neighbors.

There is something hidden away in this movie about people getting older and having kids but still wanting to be young – still wanting to do mushrooms and smoke weed and drink their younger counterparts under the table.

There is something buried in this movie about the way that having a baby makes a person into a very old person who can't bear even the smallest noises while simultaneously making that same person into someone who wants to run wild and escape from his or her life.

There is something lurking behind the plot of Neighbors that has to do with feeling like one is a part of a team, something about wanting desperately to feel as though one's partner is on one's side and that the only thing that matters is working together to defeat a common enemy.

There is real truth in the way that many people fear that the things that they are good at are not really being utilized when they begin parenting. How do I put my skills at managing other people, at being the kingmaker, at planning a double-cross, to use when all I am supposed to do is watch this kid all day?

Neighbors doesn't really get to any of that, though. In fact, it seems to want to be a movie for the family side of the family vs. frat in the poster. The movie insists that it really is cool to be older and more boring and to eat pizza in bed. It's way cooler to make a calendar with your kid posed as characters from television than it is to go to Burning Man. The movie really believes this. And that's fine and all, whether I believe it or not.

But if Neighbors wants to convince its audience that this is true, it does a terrible job of it. All of the fun that is had in the movie is by the fraternity house. They do a lot of pretty awesome things, and they clearly throw amazing, lavish parties.

Let me underline, though, that there are perhaps two funny jokes in Neighbors. More than anything else this is a series of jokes that just fall flat. A total disaster. Even with Zac Efron.