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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

With ‘Neighbors’ like these, I give up

I haven't been shy about saying how much I loathe the would-be comedy "Neighbors." In fact, on Facebook I described it as the "worst movie ever." Hyperbole aside, my attitude about the movie is fairly clear.

I've had some pushback. Rotten Tomatoes actually gave the film a 74 percent Tomatometer rating, and this among "top critics" (the audience rating is 78 percent). Among some of the comments:

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: "As as tensions escalate, Teddy and Peter's partnership proves just as central and perhaps more vulnerable than Mac and Kelly's. Score one for growing up." (Really?)

David Hiltbrand, Philadelphia Inquirer: "It's the most rollicking frat comedy since 'Revenge of the Nerds II.' (Miss you, Booger.)" (Oh, that's high praise indeed.)

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: "The most shocking thing about the hard-R comedy 'Neighbors' is that - surprise - it's actually rather endearing." (What the hell is she talking about?)

Not all critics are fans. Here's Christopher Orr of The Atlantic: "It's Apatow without the Apatow, all ornaments and no tree."

And Anthony Lane of The New Yorker: "It's a promising setup, but it gets frittered away - partly by narrative laziness (the involvement of other neighbors is dismissed out of hand) but mainly by a flaccid belief in the power of the gross-out."

One of my Facebook friends, former Spokane resident Chris Jensen, agreed - mostly - with my three-word review: "Just saw it. I didn't think it was terrible so much as lazy — lazy writing, lazy improv. And I'm really, 'really' getting tired of Seth Rogen trying to get laughs out of his clear discomfort with gay dudes."

More locally, my young friend Eric McGaughey, had this to say: "Saw 'Neighbors' … hardly the worst thing I've ever seen. I found a lot of the scenes to be pretty funny, but I felt that those scenes were strung together rather poorly. That said, I found Dave Franco's De Niro moment to be extremely hilarious."

I had planned to write a full review, running down each and every problem with "Neighbors." But I just couldn't summon up the energy. We go to comedies to get a lift, to laugh away our cares. And I sat through "Neighbors" with my posture gradually slumping, looking at the mess on the screen with a growing sense of despair. It wasn't only the homophobia, which is rampant enough. It wasn't the lack of maturity of people who pretend to be parents, which was distinctly lacking. It was just that I didn't laugh. Not once.

And I wasn't alone. Unlike other comedies I can name — everything from "Animal House" to "Three Men and a Baby" to "Home Alone," all of which evoked so much laughter I could barely hear dialogue — "Neighbors" elicited only a few titters around me, coming mostly from the young women who were obviously thrilled by Zac Eprhon's physique.

Anyway, I'll stick with the sentiments expressed in my follow-up Facebook post: "Neighbors" is bad. Seriously, stupidly bad.