Sunday, April 20, 2014

Summer 2014 Box Office Predictions- Part 1

After an extremely strong winter and spring, the 2014 box office is now pacing ahead of 2013, 2011, and 2009. With huge hits like Ride Along, The LEGO Movie, Divergent and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it's really no surprise that the business has been doing so well. And with a lot of potentially huge movies ahead, this year is far from over. With this post, I'll be making my predictions for the first part of the summer box office (May and June). There are many films that could end up being megahits, so this will be very interesting. Here we go.

THE AMAZING SPIDER MAN 2- May 2


Opening Weekend Prediction- $91.3 million
Total Gross Prediction- $250.7 million

After the lukewarm reception to the first film, I really don't see this becoming a massive hit, especially with stiff competition from Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past later in the month. In addition to that, the reviews have been middling thus far and the film may just be trying to do too much. It will still be a worldwide smash, but The Amazing Spider Man 2 might have trouble getting to $250 million in the US.

NEIGHBORS- May 9


Opening Weekend Prediction- $42.5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $155 million

Neighbors is going to be a huge hit in the US. The story of a prank war between a suburban family and a fraternity is absolutely hilarious and one of the most hysterical movies I've seen in a while. With a stellar supporting cast led by Zac Efron and Dave Franco, Neighbors delivers the laughs in droves. And people are going to love this movie when they finally see it. I think that this could end up being Rogen's highest grossing film yet.

LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY'S RETURN- May 9


Opening Weekend Prediction- $5.4 million
Total Gross Prediction- $12 million

This movie looks absolutely awful and I seriously doubt that anyone will actually see it. However, it does star Lea Michele, Dan Aykroyd and Patrick Stewart, which could draw in some parents. Other than star power, this movie has nothing going for it. The animation looks awful and all of the jokes in the trailers fall flat. This is going to be a huge flop.

CHEF- May 9


Opening Weekend Prediction- $200,000 (limited release)
Total Gross Prediction- $9 million

Jon Favreau's Chef looks like a good movie and will probably work as counter-programming in a crowded summer. There are a lot of big-name cast members like Robert Downey Jr., Sofia Vergara, Dustin Hoffman and Scarlett Johannson and the premise looks pretty fun. Look for Chef to be a modest hit this summer. Personally, I'm looking forward to it.

GODZILLA- May 16


Opening Weekend Prediction- $93 million
Total Gross Prediction- $270 million

In the world of internet film criticism, there is probably no blockbuster that is more anticipated this summer than Godzilla. The latest incarnation of the famous Japanese monster series looks pretty spectacular with a dead serious tone and a cast that includes Bryan Cranston and David Strathairn. The buzz has been deafening and I just can't wait to see what director Gareth Edwards has cooked up here. If it's good, a total of over $250 million is almost guaranteed for Godzilla.

MILLION DOLLAR ARM- May 16


Opening Weekend Prediction- $14.2 million
Total Gross Prediction- $65 million

Million Dollar Arm is a sports movie from Disney that tells the story of an agent who goes to India to find cricket players to play baseball. That's an intriguing premise, but what's even more intriguing is that Disney's studio chief said that this movie tested better than any other film they've ever made. That's pretty great and I believe that word of mouth will be stellar. Look for this film to make solid money throughout the summer.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST- May 23


Opening Weekend Prediction- $106 million (3-day), $127 million (4-day)
Total Gross Prediction- $325 million

Although this film is in some trouble at this point because of director Bryan Singer's sexual abuse lawsuit, the latest X-Men movie will certainly be one of the biggest hits of the summer. The epic storyline combines both the cast from X-Men: First Class and the original trilogy for a motion picture event that includes killer robots, dystopian futures and more. I can't wait for this film and I believe that audiences will be drawn to seeing all of these characters together for one movie.

BLENDED- May 23


Opening Weekend Prediction- $31 million (3-day), $40 million (4-day)
Total Gross Prediction- $97.5 million

Reuniting Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore for a comedy set in Africa sounds like a great idea on paper, but when he's not doing another Grown Ups film, Sandler hasn't exactly been dynamite at the box office. However,  Blended is a PG-13 comedy, which is rare and will likely work as counterprogramming to Days of Future Past on Memorial Day weekend. A finish just short of $100 million is likely.

MALEFICENT- May 30


Opening Weekend Prediction- $82 million
Total Gross Prediction- $240 million

Maleficent is another risky fantasy film for Disney, but this time, Angelina Jolie is the star. She hasn't done a movie in a while and will likely be the major draw for this film. In addition to that, the special effects look great and the dark tone could bring in some adults in addition to the built in family audience. Oz, The Great and Powerful opened to $79 million on its way to $234 million. Maleficent should at least match that.

A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST- May 30


Opening Weekend Prediction- $41 million
Total Gross Prediction- $120 million

Seth MacFarlane saw great success in 2012 with Ted, the raunchy R-rated comedy about a teddy bear that becomes a living creature. A Million Ways to Die in the West is a Western, which will likely be a harder sell to mainstream audiences and it's opening right between Neighbors and 22 Jump Street, both of which will be huge. However, it has a strong cast and the red band trailer makes the film seem pretty funny. A total around $120 million should be expected for this one.

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS- June 6


Opening Weekend Prediction- $51 million
Total Gross Prediction- $160 million

I'm predicting big things for this movie for many reasons. The dark cancer drama probably doesn't seem like it would fit on the summer movie schedule, but the fanbase for this book is massive and from what I can tell, they're already excited about this movie. In addition, Shailene Woodley is now a household name because of Divergent. Finally, there's literally no competition for this film throughout the whole summer. That means that The Fault in Our Stars will have all summer to do whatever it wants at the box office. If everything goes well, this is going to be a huge hit.

EDGE OF TOMORROW- June 6


Opening Weekend Prediction- $35.5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $101 million

Edge of Tomorrow is a high-concept sci-fi film starring Tom Cruise. That's one negative right there. This film actually does look good, but the box office prospects aren't super high for this one. Edge of Tomorrow's success or failure will hinge on reviews and word of mouth. That's what it's going to come down to. If reviews are good, Edge of Tomorrow could be a solid hit.

22 JUMP STREET- June 13


Opening Weekend Prediction- $56.5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $165 million

21 Jump Street was a massive surprise back in 2012, opening to $36.3 million on its way to nearly $140 million. With a prime summer release date, odds are that 22 Jump Street will make much more money. Tatum and Hill are much bigger stars now and the first film was well received. I think that a total around $165 million is reasonable at this point.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2


Opening Weekend Prediction- $115 million
Total Gross Prediction- $380 million

The first film in the How To Train Your Dragon franchise was a massive hit, grossing $217.5 million back in 2010. The sequel's advantage is that there is literally no other animated film coming out this Summer. The film's strongest competition is Planes: Fire and Rescue. A massive total of $300 million+ is almost guaranteed at this point.

THINK LIKE A MAN TOO- June 20


Opening Weekend Prediction- $37 million
Total Gross Prediction- $94 million

Think Like A Man was a surprise success back in 2012 and Kevin Hart's stock has grown exponentially since that first film was released. Now, the sequel is here and it should end up making more than its predecessor. The film doesn't look great but it should end up being a success. It should finish around the same mark that its predecessor did.

JERSEY BOYS- June 20


Opening Weekend Prediction- $25.6 million
Total Gross Prediction- $115 million

Jersey Boys has been a musical success for years on Broadway and now, Clint Eastwood will adapt the play to the big screen. Movie musicals have been pretty tough to crack over the years. Les Miserables was a big hit, but Rock of Ages flopped. However, the first trailer for Jersey Boys was good and with an R-rating, it's clear that Warner Bros. is going for an adult audience. I'm betting that this film ends up being a midsummer hit for the underestimated adult crowd.

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION- June 27


Opening Weekend Prediction- $110 million
Total Gross Prediction- $300 million

The Transformers franchise isn't quite what it used to be. The fourth film in the saga that started with 2007's Transformers has a fresh new cast led by Mark Wahlberg and Nicola Peltz and what looks to be a darker tone. However, in a crowded summer, I'm not sure that Age of Extinction can quite be the hit that the previous films were. Still, this will be one of the biggest worldwide hits of the year.

Those are my predictions for May and June. It looks like there are quite a few sure things and some films that might have tough time. Come back later for my predictions for July and August (hint: there will be a lot more flops.)

"Captain America" in front for third straight weekend, "Heaven is for Real" surprises, "Transcendence" bombs at box office

After a win by the smallest of margins last weekend, Captain America: the Winter Soldier topped the box office again with a $26.6 million weekend. That's a 36% drop from last weekend, which is a pretty solid hold. Word of mouth has obviously been good for this film, which has now grossed $201.5 million in the US. Worldwide, The Winter Soldier has now amassed $586.6 million and by the end of its run, Captain America will probably have about $750 million. It should pass Thor: The Dark World's total in the US by Tuesday or Wednesday. In second place was another holdover from last weekend, Fox's Rio 2. The animated sequel grossed $22.5 million this weekend which is a 43% drop from last weekend. That's a decent hold for the film, but with no direct competition, Fox has to be slightly disappointed. Through two weekends, the film has grossed a solid $75.3 million and will surely finish with $100 million or more.

The biggest surprise of the weekend was Sony's Heaven is for Real, which grossed $21.5 million in third place. The religious drama, which opened on Wednesday, received an "A" Cinemascore from audiences. And with Easter today, I wouldn't be surprised to see this estimate go up when the actuals come out tomorrow. Heaven is for Real cost $12 million to make and has now made $28.5 million. That's pretty impressive and with the success of God's Not Dead and Son of God earlier this year, I see no reason why the religious films won't stop being produced. 

Although The Legend of Hercules, I,Frankenstein and Pompeii flopped earlier this year, Transcendence became the year's first mega-budget failure, finishing in fourth place this weekend with $11.1 million. That's a horrible total for the film, which was tracking to make at least $25 million. Word of mouth certainly didn't help. Transcendence received a "C+" Cinemascore and reviews were awful on Rotten Tomatoes. I hated the film as well and I'm still baffled that it was so bad. The storyline seems so smart and interesting on paper, but it's just so muddled and confusing on film. 

A Haunted House 2 also had a pretty rough weekend, finishing in fifth place with $9.1 million. That's roughly half of what the first film made, which is pretty disappointing. Audiences didn't like it (the film received a "B-" Cinemascore) and critics weren't kind either. However, the film cost $4 million to make, so A Haunted House 3 can't be far behind. Draft Day had a decent hold this weekend, placing in sixth place with $5.9 million. After a lackluster start, Draft Day dropped only 40%. The film has now grossed $19.5 million, although no budget has been reported by Summit.

Divergent finished in seventh place with $5.7 million. The YA adaptation has now grossed $133.9 million, which is slightly disappointing given the rabid fanbase. We'll see if the sequel, Insurgent, can do a little bit better. Oculus dropped 57% to eighth place this weekend and grossed $5.2 million. The horror film has now grossed $21.1 million. Noah finished in ninth place with $5 million. Due to the religious holidays this weekend, Noah probably saw a small bump. The film has now grossed $93.2 million and will likely crawl to $100 million. And finally, God's Not Dead rounded out the top ten with $4.8 million. The low budget hit has now grossed $48.3 million. 

Also, Disney's Bears grossed $4.7 million in eleventh place. That's the worst start for a Disneynature film so far, but the film did receive a promising "A" Cinemascore. I really did enjoy the movie and I encourage you to check it out if it interests you. 

Next weekend sees the release of The Other Woman, The Quiet Ones and Brick Mansions. Here are my early predictions: 

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier- $17.1 million
2. The Other Woman- $15.3 million
3. Rio 2- $14.5 million
4. Heaven is for Real- $14 million
5. The Quiet Ones- $13.6 million
6. Brick Mansions- $10.1 million
7. Transcendence- $5.2 million
8. A Haunted House 2- $3.9 million
9. Draft Day- $3.8 million
10. Divergent- $3.6 million


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Transcendence review

Sometimes, having expectations for a film can be a killer. As I thought about Wally Pfister's new sci-fi thriller Transcendence, I wondered if my inflated expectations for the film had caused me to be disappointed or if the movie was just flat-out bad. I've settled on the latter option. Transcendence is a dull, boring movie with little to offer the audience but a bunch of scientific talk spoken between lifeless characters and a borderline incomprehensible plot. It's one of 2014's first disasters. Transcendence is a film that promises so much, but delivers so little. None of the actors give much of a performance and the script is a mess. This movie never grips you in the beginning and never really does throughout the entire runtime. The film takes a strong anti-technology stance. What's ironic about that is that the movie feels like it was made by a computer.

Transcendence is the story of Will and Evelyn Caster (Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall), two acclaimed scientists who also happen to be husband and wife. After giving a speech about artificial intelligence at a conference, Will is confronted by a man who shoots at him before taking his own life. Eventually, we learn that an anti-tech group called RIFT conducted a series of attacks against AI labs and only Will, Evelyn and their friends Joseph (Morgan Freeman) and Max (Paul Bettany) survived. Will was only grazed by the bullet, but it contained polonium, which will give Will radiation poisoning and cause him to die. Distraught when she learns that her husband will die, Evelyn remembers a study conducted and decides to upload Will's brain onto a computer. The experiment works and Will becomes a sentient, intelligent being on a computer program. However, he eventually begins to amass more power and builds an army which threatens all of humanity.


Transcendence is a movie with so much potential, but it never delivers on any of it. I've read a lot of reviews for this movie and I agreed with pretty much everything that other critics said. Transcendence is a lifeless movie with tedious characters, awful pacing and a dull, uninteresting storyline. Some people have said that the movie gets by on its ideas alone. I disagree wholeheartedly with that statement. The film has interesting ideas and intriguing themes, but there's no way that you'll be interested in these themes while you're being bored half to death by this movie. The pacing and the directing is awful, the acting is dull and the film never really has anything going on.

The first problem with Transcendence is the pacing. This movie has long stretches where nothing goes on, followed by a brief moment of excitement, followed by another long stretch of nothing. For long periods of time, this movie is so boring. Every once in a while, there would be a moment where I thought "Hey, that looked cool!" or "Hey, that's something that Chris Nolan would have done!" but the simple problem was that they were few and far between.

Another problem that Transcendence runs into involves the acting and the characters. Look, I'm not saying that Inception or some of the other Nolan have the most developed characters in the world, but every time I watch Inception, I'm invested in Cobb's story. In Transcendence, I never cared about a single one of the characters. Johnny Depp is pretty bland, Rebecca Hall is okay, and although a lot of people have been praising Paul Bettany's performance, I didn't think he was great. The supporting cast delivers some interesting performances, but the characters are terribly written. Cillian Murphy's character is so criminally underdeveloped and Morgan Freeman isn't given much to do (although I did enjoy his performance). Kate Mara is decent (her character actually has some kind of backstory) and Clifton Collins Jr. gives a solid performance in his limited role. In general, the acting is sufficient. But the main problem is that this film is dull and the characters are both dull AND poorly written. You never cared about them. However, that wouldn't have been a huge problem for me if the rest of the movie had been more thrilling or at least have made sense.

The biggest problem this movie runs into is that the script sucks. Actually, I don't know if the script sucks. According to a lot of people, the script was on the blacklist for years and the original script was fantastic. However, the script that was put on the screen sucks. It really really sucks. It's just stupid. There are things that happen that are never explained in addition to underdeveloped characters and poor pacing. The second half of this movie is ridiculous because it explains nothing. Let's go into that some more.

For years, I've listened to people say that Inception is a confusing movie because it's complicated. And for years, I have said to those people that the movie is not confusing and that you just have to pay attention. On the other hand, Transcendence IS a confusing movie. This movie makes so little sense that it's breathtaking. There are so many things that are so stupid and ridiculous that it frustrated the heck out of me. The film all of a sudden jumps ahead three years at one point in the movie and Will goes: "Hey, we just invented new nano-technology!" Suddenly, the movie becomes a mess of flying particles, reconstructed bodies and indestructible superhumans. And none of it is explained. None of it is explained logically by the plot and don't even get me started on the ending. This movie pulls a Peter Jackson and never ends. There are so many places where this movie could end, but it just goes on and on and on and on and on and on. And the final scene just made me mad.

In the end, Transcendence is terrible. It's a boring, nearly incomprehensible mess with weak characters, bad pacing, and a script that explains nothing. This movie has good ideas and moments of entertainment and it does look cool sometimes. Some of the action scenes were alright. However, that doesn't mean that it's good. This movie is a disastrous slog at times with an ending that tries to be mysterious and interesting, but just ends up falling flat because the previous two hours were awful. All I can really say at this point is that you shouldn't see this movie. It's the most boring, dull movie that I've seen in theaters all year and that's saying something. Hopefully Nolan's next directorial feature, Interstellar, is much better.

THE FINAL GRADE:  D                                               (4.2/10)



Friday, April 18, 2014

Why R-rated comedies will rule Summer 2014 at the box office

In past summers, major blockbusters with insane amounts of action and carnage have ruled the summer box office. And odds are, the same will be said for Summer 2014. The top films will probably end up being X-Men: Days of Future Past, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Godzilla, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and possibly Guardians of the Galaxy and Maleficent. The only surefire megahit that isn't an action film is How to Train Your Dragon 2. However, the problem is that for every successful big-budget tentpole, there's one that doesn't do so hot. Edge of Tomorrow is already looking like a risky bet and Jupiter Ascending could spell trouble as well. Last summer, The Lone Ranger, After Earth, White House Down and (to a lesser degree) Pacific Rim all disappointed at the box office. Despite all of these $100 million+ flops, there's one low risk genre that consistently makes money: comedies. For years now, comedies have made a killing at the summer box office, providing us with some of the biggest smash hits in recent memory. Recently, the more specific genre of R-rated comedies has brought us films like The Hangover ($277 million), Bridesmaids ($169 million), Ted ($218 million), We're the Millers ($150 million) and The Heat ($159 million). All of those films made more than $150 million at the box office. And none of them cost more than $50 million.

Summer 2014 looks to be the strongest summer yet for R-rated comedies with five R-rated comedies that have the potential to do strong business. First up is Neighbors, the hilarious new Seth Rogen comedy that sees his character face off against a fraternity led by Teddy (Zac Efron). Having already seen the film, I can tell you that it's raunchy, crude and absolutely hilarious. With no competition for two or three weeks, this film will make a killing at the box office. A total of over $150 million is almost a given at this point in my opinion. Last summer, Rogen and friends teamed up for This is the End, which made $101 million domestically. Neighbors will make much more than that.


After that, Universal will release another comedy, A Million Ways To Die In The West, on May 30. This is the latest film from Seth MacFarlane who directed Ted. A Million Ways is probably a harder sell, but it has a great cast led by MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson and Neil Patrick Harris and it looks pretty funny. A total above $130 million wouldn't be surprising, but if this film ends up being good, I wouldn't be shocked to see it make more.


The next R-rated comedy will come in June with 22 Jump Street. Its predecessor, 21 Jump Street, made $138 million and with a prime summer release spot, 22 Jump Street is poised to make even more. The film looks pretty funny and a lot of people who saw the first one are going to want to see this one. Critically, the first film was a success as well, and if this one can get good reviews again, 22 Jump Street could end up being the biggest R-rated comedy of the summer. In addition, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are both bigger draws now than they were when 21 Jump Street came out. In the end, this movie is going to make a boatload of money.


The biggest July 4th release this year is Tammy, also an R-rated comedy. This Warner Bros. Melissa McCarthy vehicle is sure to be a hit, simply because McCarthy is starring. Her last two films made more than $130 million at the box office and she is pretty much a household name at this point. In Tammy, she plays a fast-food worker who goes on a road trip with her foul-mouthed mother. The first trailer was comedy gold and I'm really looking forward to seeing what McCarthy and her husband, director Ben Falcone, cooked up with this one. Look for this to be a huge hit as well.


The final R-rated comedy of the summer is Sony's Sex Tape, which probably will end up being the smallest hit of the bunch. Sex Tape stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel as a married couple who make a sex tape which ends up going to the cloud. They have to embark on a journey to get back all of the iPads that they gave out for Christmas which the video was uploaded onto. This film probably best compares to Bad Teacher, which still grossed $100 million back in 2011. The film looks funny, but I'm still not sure how it will end up doing at the box office. Keep an eye on this one.


All in all, you're going to have a lot of smaller films making shocking amounts of money this summer. The Fault in Our Stars is going to be a huge hit, Jersey Boys and Get On Up could end up being good counter-programming and Deliver Us From Evil will be this year's version of The Conjuring. Hollywood might not get the highest grossing summer of all time, but they sure will make a lot of money.

Bears review

Back in 2008, when Disney announced that they were starting the Disneynature franchise, I was very excited. And while I haven't necessarily kept up with the recent Disneynature films, I decided to check out Bears simply because I love bears. That's pretty much the only reason why I wanted to see this movie. And I did end up enjoying this movie. Bears is a pretty standard nature film, but there's beautiful cinematography and an interesting storyline. John C. Reilly's narration is slightly overbearing at times, but it's a really great-looking film and the filmmaking is breathtakingly good.

Bears tells the story of a bear family in Alaska. Sky is a new mother who is now raising her children, shy Amber and adventurous Scout, in the wilderness. The bears need food and yet, it's a very long trek to get to the salmon that they desperately need. In addition, Sky and her cubs must endure wolves, avalanches and two male bears who pose a direct threat to the cubs including the leader of the domain, a bear named Magnus. Basically, this film depicts the journey of Sky, Amber and Scout to get food and survive the harsh wilderness.


This is going to be a pretty short review since there really isn't much for me to judge about this film. In general, I enjoyed this film. Bears is a nature documentary and if you don't like nature documentaries, you won't like this film. The film can be a little slow at times and there are parts where there are a lot of walking montages with not much going on. But in the end, this is a movie that I enjoyed especially because of the cinematography and the way that the filmmakers captured the story of this family and the way that they interact. 

The first thing that most people have said about this movie is how great the cinematography and I will have to agree. The cinematography on Bears is absolutely breathtaking and captures the Alaskan wilderness and the life of the bears with spectacular clarity and detail. This is a well-made movie and I loved how the credits showed how the directors made the film. Co-directors Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill got up close and personal with the bears and it shows. The film is beautiful and detailed and I really loved how this movie looked. 

The narration is a bit of a problem at times. John C. Reilly narrates this film and he actually does a pretty good job. However, there are times where Reilly tries to add dialogue into the film and it really doesn't work. There were times in which the narration became slightly overbearing and it just annoyed me. In the end, Reilly does a good job, but it just ends up being a problem every once in a while. 

The story is good, and while some critics have claimed that it was "Disney-fied", I strongly disagreed. The story was natural, interesting and engrossing and I was never sure which way this film would go. The peril of the film is around every corner and I was in suspense at times. 

In the end, there really isn't that much to say about Bears. It's short at 78 minutes long and it's a typical nature documentary. It's breathtaking at times, slow at others but entertaining when it comes down to it. Families will enjoy this film and animal lovers will probably enjoy it even more. The bears are cute so maybe this film will appeal to an even broader audience. All in all, I really did end up enjoying this film. It was cool, engrossing documentary. 

THE FINAL GRADE:  B                                                  (7/10)


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Neighbors review

Over the last few years, there hasn't been a more powerful comedic force in Hollywood than Seth Rogen. After starting his career with small roles in Judd Apatow productions like Anchorman and The 40 Year Old Virgin, Rogen eventually became a star in his own right, headlining films like Pineapple Express and The Green Hornet while also writing Superbad and directing This is the End with partner Evan Goldberg. Over the years, Rogen and friends Jonah Hill, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, and writer Nicholas Stoller have expanded their horizons a bit. They're tackled animated comedies, The Muppets and Hill has even picked up some Oscar nominations along the way. However, Rogen's latest film, Neighbors (out on May 9), definitely takes them back to R-rated territory. Directed by Nicholas Stoller, Neighbors plays as both a raunchy modern version of Animal House and a war movie where a suburban family and a fraternity do their best to destroy each other. With stellar performances from Zac Efron, Rose Byrne and Dave Franco, Neighbors is undoubtedly one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. It's hilarious from beginning to end and one of the best comedies in recent years.

Neighbors focuses on Mac and Kelly Radner (Rogen and Rose Byrne), a nice suburban family who are trying to adjust to life with their new baby. They miss their old days of partying, but they seem content at the same time. However, when a fraternity moves in next door, Mac and Kelly see an opportunity to prove their coolness to the frat. They go over and introduce themselves to Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco) and end up partying with them all night long. The party ends and the couple goes home, but then Teddy and Pete throw another giant party the next night. Mac ends up calling the cops and a war between the fraternity and Mac's family begins. Madness, drinking, partying and mass chaos ensues.


Neighbors is very much a Seth Rogen comedy. It's raunchy, there's a lot of marijuana use and the profanity is extremely consistent. However, Rogen and director Nicholas Stoller definitely stepped up their game here delivering a movie that feels out of control, yet meticulously mapped out at the same time. Just like the frat classic Animal House, Neighbors is a bit too messy and mostly plays out as a series of parties and pranks. But you can tell that Rogen didn't want to just do that. As many critics have already said, there are some really interesting themes in here about moving on past your young life and so on. However, you'll probably miss some of those underlying themes just from laughing so hard. By far, the best part about this movie is that it's funny and that's really all that matters. The characters and story are extremely interesting and funny and Rogen and Stoller do everything they can to make you laugh out loud at every scene. Neighbors is an absolute blast.

Comedy never works if the performers aren't up to the task. In Neighbors, all of the actors play an integral part in making this film so hilarious. Rogen is good as usual, but he definitely has moments of pure genius. Rose Byrne is really funny as well and does a great job of playing a character who is really evil at times. Efron was the stand out for me. He fits in really well with this style of comedy and is a great fit for the part. The supporting cast is also unusually strong. Dave Franco does a pretty good job, but I don't remember a ton of funny moments with him. Ike Barinholtz does a great job as Mac and Kelly's friend Jimmy. His character has some great moments.

The plot is pretty thin in terms of story, but the characters do change over the course of the film. All of these characters grow up a little bit because of what they do in this film. Plot-wise, this film is essentially a war movie between a group of immature fraternity brothers and a group of immature adults. However, just like Animal House, an elaborate plot isn't really integral to the film. Neighbors contains a bunch of small subplots that take place during this "war" that the film depicts. All of the subplots are either interesting or absolutely hilarious and they make the film better.

The script for Neighbors was written by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien. Neither one has ever written a script before. Heck, Cohen and O'Brien's most prominent credit is that they were co-producers on Funny People and assistant producers on The 40 Year Old Virgin. That's very little experience, but they kill it with this script. You can definitely feel Rogen and Stoller's touch on the script, but credit is due to Cohen and O'Brien as well. The characters are well-developed and their motivations are clear. But most importantly, this script never ceases to amaze with more and more outrageous jokes and features so much non-stop hilarity, that you'll probably be tired by the end of this movie.

Nicholas Stoller directed Forgetting Sarah Marshll, Get Him To The Greek and The Five Year Engagement before directing Neighbors. He also wrote the fantastic reboot The Muppets and its awful sequel Muppets Most Wanted. All in all, Stoller has had a mixed track record critically, but the energy his direction brings to this film is amazing. This film never slows down and Stoller has crafted some of the most elaborately outlandish and hilariously insane party sequences ever. This film almost never stops and Stoller captures everything so well.

When it comes to comedies, the thing that I consider to be most important is how much I laughed. I practically couldn't stop laughing in Neighbors. There are so many funny jokes sprinkled throughout this movie and the manic energy makes it all the more enjoyable. I seriously think that this is one of the funniest movies that I've ever seen. Whether it was Rogen and Efron dance fighting or the absolutely insane party at the end or the airbag scenes, this movie was making me laugh.

Neighbors is exactly what you'd expect from Rogen and his team: vulgar, crude and insanely funny. Do Stoller and Rogen take a couple jokes too far every once in a while? Definitely. Is the story a little weak at times and does the movie have a few scenes that just don't quite fit? Yes, also. However, none of that will matter to you when you're watching this movie and laughing your butt off. It's pure comic insanity from beginning to end and a great start to what is sure to be one of the best summers for R-rated comedies in recent memory.

THE FINAL GRADE:  A                                                  (9/10)



Sunday, April 13, 2014

MTV Movie Awards Live Blog

The MTV Movie Awards are probably not what first comes to mind when you think about awards shows. However, they're actually pretty funny and entertaining and I've been enjoying them so far this evening so I decided to bring out the live blog. Here we go:

-Conan O'Brien is doing a good job as a host. The product placement gag was brilliant.


-Jared Leto wins Best Transformation for Dallas Buyers Club.

-Does Jared Leto have to give a long speech about the importance of Dallas Buyers Club every time he wins an award?

-That Taco Bell commercial that's been running lately is absolutely hilarious.

-And we're back with Amanda Seyfried and Seth MacFarlane, the stars of A Million Ways to Die in the West.

-Jonah Hill wins for Best Comedic Performance at the MTV Movie Awards for The Wolf of Wall Street.


-After watching this show for about twenty minutes, I've realized that the MTV Movie Awards are essentially one big promotional item.

-Interesting performance by 21 Pilots. Never really heard of the band before, but it was still pretty compelling to watch.

-Leto is pretty annoying at this point. Best Villain is up next.

-Fassbender should totally win this, but Cumberbatch will take it. He deserves it too.

-And the award goes to.....Mila Kunis?

-Seriously, I forgot that Oz even came out this year.

-YouTube sponsors stuff now? That's weird.

-Conan is now introducing Rita Ora and Jessica Alba. With a muscle suit on. This show just keeps getting more bizarre.

-And now we have Best Shirtless Performance. Wow. This just gets more ridiculous every second.

-Zac Efron wins Best Shirtless Performance for a movie that nobody saw. And they basically forced the shirt off of him.

-Ellen Page with a large bit of product placement for X-Men: Days of Future Past in the background. This just further solidifies this show as one large marketing showcase.

-That was pretty cool. Well-edited and well-directed. Very excited for Days of Future Past.

-So many movie commercials. It's one big marketing push. However, it's still pretty entertaining. Channing Tatum is now getting the Trailblazer award. With more ads for his summer movies.

-Tatum's gonna have a huge summer if Jupiter Ascending is a success.

-This show is really dragging. Eminem and Rihanna are performing "The Monster" right now.

-Good performance, but this show is extremely tedious. The stars of Neighbors (which I'm seeing this week) are coming on stage now.

-Best Kiss is up next. It'd be great if J-Law and Amy Adams won.

-Why are all the acceptance speeches at this show so awkward?

-Since nothing remotely interesting has happened at this show in the last thirty minutes, I think that I'm going to cut the live blog off here. I'll be back later this week with reviews of Draft Day, Neighbors and more. I'll probably keep posting on Twitter, so stay posted there.