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Plot Details: This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Confucius say, must have neighbors.


Plot Overview

Young married couple Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Bryne) Radner are living out their ideal (“It's happening!”) of sexual liberation (“It's spon­tan­eous!”) by doing it in a down­stairs room. There is a draw­back (“We have a house”) or two (“We have a baby”) when they'll be putting on a show for their neighbors and are now doing it in front of their kid Stella. It's as “Confucius says truly, ‘Virtue does not remain as an abandoned orphan; it must of necessity have neighbours’” (144). Spon­tan­eous sex à la “Carpe the fucking diem” is no virtue if it's kept in the closet; it's that calcu­lated sus­cep­ti­bility of dis­covery that makes it merit­orious.

Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) president of the new frat house next door, delta psi beta, leads his house on a quest to stand on the shoulders of giant parties of the past, to “end the year with the most out­stan­ding bender of all time.” Their frat's motto, how­ever, is: “Chivalry above self.” Chivalry, of course, is not a virtue to be practiced in a vacuum. One needs neighbors to practice it on, and the peace loving Radners next door provide just such an opportunity.

The friction between these two factions leads to the fraternity being placed on probation, so they dare not stage their planned bash. Unfortu­nately, that doesn't resolve the matter. The frat will be off probation in six months, and as Stella grows up, she'll be watching all the hunks next door. With Stella's folks' virtue of spontaneous sex for an example, this just won't do, so the Radners plan and manipulate that fraternity BASH, them­selves, to get the frat suspended for good. This is likely to end in fireworks.


If the title “Neighbors” is like something right out of Confucius, then their neighborly relations could have been developed in the Wisdom of Sirach: (Sirach 5:9) “Winnow not with every wind, and go not into every way: for so doth the sinner that hath a double tongue.” Mac goes with which­ever way the wind is blowing. Seeing a gay couple looking at the vacant house next door, he is quick to adopt a wel­coming stance saying with a gay wave, “It's a fabu­lous neighbor­hood.”

(Sirach 5:10) “Be stedfast in thy under­standing; and let thy word be the same.” The neighbor­hood doesn't seem so fabulous when it opens itself to the frat house.

(Sirach 5:11–13) “Be swift to hear; and let thy life be sincere; and with patience give answer. If thou hast under­standing, answer thy neighbour; if not, lay thy hand upon thy mouth. Honour and shame is in talk: and the tongue of man is his fall.” The trick is to be patient and sincere when first meeting their new neighbors, and not to say something they'll later regret.

(Sirach 5:14) “Be not called a whisperer, and lie not in wait with thy tongue: for a foul shame is upon the thief, and an evil con­dem­nation upon the double tongue.” Mac's problem was a lack of credi­bility after he's promised to contact the house first, not the police, with any complaints about noise, but then he calls the cops.

(Sirach 5:15) “Be not ignorant of any thing in a great matter or a small.” Confucius advises us (143):

How vast and profound is the influence of the subtile powers of Heaven and of Earth!

We seek to perceive them, and we do not see them; we seek to hear them, and we do not hear them; identified with the substance of things, they cannot be separated from them.

They cause that in all the universe men purify and sanctify their hearts, and clothe themselves in their holiday garments to offer sacrifices and oblations to their ancestors. It is an ocean of subtile intelligences. They are everywhere, above us, on our left, on our right; they environ us on all sides.

Mac was oblivious to modern subtile forces: that the cops had caller ID, that the frat house cell phones were recording pictures of him and his wife joining their party the night before, and that all the booze his wife drank would end up in baby's milk.

morphing into Malcolm XA “small matter” is the baby monitor that allowed the couple to keep tabs on Stella while they were partying next door. A “great matter” is in imitating celebrities to scam invites to the party on the phone, they had some pretty good ones until some­one decided to try: “This is President Barack Obama.” Couldn't quite manage his distinctive emphasis on the last two syllables we're used to hearing on the radio and TV. In my review of “Germany: Year Zero”, “I also recom­mend listening to Stan Freberg's recording of 'Sh-Boom' (Life Could be a Dream) in which he humorously critiques White singers for being unable to reproduce the black jive: ‘Hey nonny ding dong ... .’” The neat trick, though, is "Obama's" spiel ends up morphing into some­thing Malcolm X might have said in his day, for whom Obama is a dead ringer at similar ages (and his mom and Malcolm X were friends around the time of his birth). "Obama" said, “Peace, nigger” [sic.]

(Sirach 6:1) “Instead of a friend become not an enemy; for [thereby] thou shalt inherit an ill name, shame, and reproach: even so shall a sinner that hath a double tongue.” Mac earned him­self a bad rep after having befriended Teddy, then going back on his word concerning the cops to become his enemy.

(Sirach 6:2–4) “Extol not thyself in the counsel of thine own heart; that thy soul be not torn in pieces as a bull [straying alone.] Thou shalt eat up thy leaves, and lose thy fruit, and leave thyself as a dry tree. A wicked soul shall destroy him that hath it, and shall make him to be laughed to scorn of his enemies.” Mac deluded him­self that he was right and ended up with no street creds.

(Sirach 6:5) “Sweet language will multiply friends: and a fair­speaking tongue will increase kind greetings.” The fraternity brothers had the right idea knocking on doors and ingratiating them­selves with the neighbors.

(Sirach 6:6) “Be in peace with many: nevertheless have but one counsellor of a thousand.” Mac tried to get along with his boss (who was also a personal friend), with his Australian wife, with the police, with the school admin­is­tration, etc., but he reserved but one friend to be his counselor who told him he might be going over­board. Like­wise, for all the frat brothers Teddy had, Pete (Dave Franco) was the smart one he relied on to tell him what to do.

(Sirach 6:7–9) “If thou wouldest get a friend, prove him first and be not hasty to credit him. For some man is a friend for his own occasion, and will not abide in the day of thy trouble. And there is a friend, who being turned to enmity, and strife will discover thy reproach.” Teddy should have proved Mac first rather than committing friend­ship to him on that first (party) night of their meeting, for Mac had ulterior motives, and once turned against him would discover and exploit the fraternity's already being in some trouble with the university.

(Sirach 6:10–12) “Again, some friend is a companion at the table, and will not continue in the day of thy affliction. But in thy prosperity he will be as thy­self, and will be bold over thy servants. If thou be brought low, he will be against thee, and will hide him­self from thy face.” Mac started out as a partying buddy to the frat bros, but that didn't continue once their noise disturbed his family. He went so far as to appropriate one of delta psi beta's own pledges as a double agent, and he used Teddy's girl­friend (“Bros before hos”) to drive a wedge between the brothers (“Get them to put hos before bros.”) This latter capitalizes on the more intimate nature of boy­friend–girl­friend relations compared to the cama­rad­erie of frat brothers, as per (Prov. 18:24) “A man that hath friends must show him­self friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” When the fraternity got in more hot water with the university, Mac wasn't there for them but plotted still more trouble.

(Sirach 6:13–17) “Separate thyself from thine enemies, and take heed of thy friends. A faithful friend is a strong defence: and he that hath found such an one hath found a treasure. Nothing doth counter­vail a faith­ful friend, and his excellency is invaluable. A faithful friend is the medicine of life; and they that fear the Lord shall find him. Whoso feareth the Lord shall direct his friend­ship aright: for as he is, so shall his neighbour be also.” Maybe the frat house will move to some other location. Maybe Mac and Teddy will become friends. You might have to wait till the end credits to see any of this happen.

Production Values

“Neighbors” (2014), akaBad Neighbours” (in the UK), was directed by Nicholas Stoller. It was written by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien. It stars Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, and Zac Efron who gave an especially good performance. Dave Franco and Ike Barinholtz had supporting roles. The sound­track was hot containing the likes of (consuming) “Cheep Beer” performed by FIDLAR. The movie was 96 minutes long.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA) rated it R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use through­out. In the list of upcoming tech­nol­ogies discussed in the movie is mention of “Grinder: Your phone beeps when there's some­one horny near you. (It's mostly just guys.)” For what it's worth, the Japanese have some­thing like that; it has five settings for level of interest: from coffee together to sexual inter­course.

Review Conclusion w/ Consumer Recommendation

“Neighbors” was a fun movie. Though not a rip-roaring comedy, it did have its funny moments. I recommend seeing this one with your buddies. It has a lot of life application material in it that can apply beyond the plot's scope. The movie theater was pretty full on opening night when I went to see it. I sat in a row of fraternity & sorority types. They could get a real education in this one, with­out sitting through a philosophy class.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick.

Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age.

Special effects: Well done special effects.

Video Occasion: Good for Groups.

Suspense: A few suspenseful moments.

Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Apocryphal scripture taken from The Septuagint with Apoc­rypha: Greek and English. U.S.A.: Hendrick­son Pub. Originally published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851. Print, WEB.

Confucius. Doctrine of the Mean. Zhong Yong, as quoted in Henry David Thoreau, Walden. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, Collector's Library—2004.