Tag Archives: zac efron

Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising

I’m not going to lie: the first 3 times I saw the trailer for this movie in theatres, I believed it was a car commercial for at least 20 seconds. Each time. But then it would dawn on me that this was a sequel to a movie I thought was okay. I could hardly remember it but was sure I’d seen it. And probably didn’t hate it because vitriol lingers longer than indifference (and if you’re doing it right, love).

So on Saturday night, Sean and I went to the drive-in, where we were forced to Untitled-1-xlargewatch 2 shit movies called X-Men Apocalypse and whatever Divergent one is most recent. And across the lawn, in my peripheral vision, the French screen was playing Neighbours 2. Only I didn’t know what they were playing, I just knew that I’d just seen some chick throw up on some dude’s face (I generously warned Sean not to look). Since I’d already survived what had to have been the worst scene in the movie, I figured, why not give the rest a gander.

If you’re susceptible to vomit scenes, squish your eyes shut for the first 130 seconds. Fight through that and you’ll be won over by a cock’n’dildo joke.

The premise: the old people next door, Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, are pregnant with their second child and moving on up. Their house is in escrow, so they’re 30 days away from escape. The bad news? Just when they’ve gotten rid of last movie’s Zac Efron-led fraternity, in comes a Zac Efron-led sorority. And is it possible that sororities are WORSE than frats?

The writing on this is wonky. The jokes are pretty solid and I laughed throughout but the script that connects the jokes is a lot weaker. They’re trying like mad to make this the “feminist” raunchy comedy. Did you know that in the U.S., sororities aren’t allowed to party in their own houses? They have to go to frats for that, which is a pretty rapey solution to a shitty, sexist problem. But that’s mostly just lip service. The meat is in the millennials vs. old people situation, even though technically, Seth Rogen is a still grazing millennial status himself (gross!) and Rose Byrne has maybe a baby toe in Generation X. But laughing at millennials is hilarious. The dumb, neighbors-2-2016_sbsysocial media-fixated, instagram-obsessed, teenaged millennials who don’t know anything about the world yet. So the old folks are doing what parents do best: stopping young people from having fun.

Sure it’s tired material. But Rogen & Byrne have the kind of chops that make this thing enjoyable. Are the best parts in the trailer? Of COURSE they are. Isn’t that par for the course these days? Somebody needs to tell movie trailer makers that nobody buys the cow if you’re giving the milk away for free. Except me. I love buying livestock. I practically hoard it. I didn’t even mean to see this one, remember? I just got roped into it when I was paying to see two other movies I had no interest in seeing. Wait – am I single-handedly saving Hollywood by compulsively buying movie tickets?

Anyway. Brainless, harmless. Funny in spots. Excellent use of a Beastie Boys song (but I mean, you can never go wrong with the Beastie Boys). And Zac Efron refuses to take Sean’s advice to keep his shirt on once in a while, if that floats your pontoon. But probably not theatre-worthy. You can afford to rent this one later. Baby oil optional.




Dirty Grandpa

Robert De Niro clearly relishes his role in Dirty Grandpa as, you guessed it, the dirty grandpa. He cusses lots and spikes drinks with Zanex and flirts with Aubrey Plaza and takes his shirt off a lot and clearly is having a ton of fun all the way through.  Zac Efron also takes his shirt off a lot but throughout this movie he looks as uncomfortable as the middle aged, flip-phone owning couple sitting directly in front of us at last night’s screening. Maybe, as Jay observed, Efron is coming to the sobering realization that being shirtless is his thing and the best he can hope for is to be brought back as the shirtless grandpa if this movie is the start of a Rocky-like franchise.

My money’s on there being no sequel. Dirty Grandpa has a lot of laughs and an abundance of dick jokes, but it also seemed unnecessarily long and unnecessarily concerned with plot. I didn’t need to see everyone learn a lesson. I certainly did not need three generations of lessons being taught to De Niro, Efron, and Dermot Mulroney. And we see stereotypes of hippies, lacrosse jocks, and gang members learn something too. The only ones exempt from this rule seem to be the very funny Jason Mantzoukas (a.k.a. Rafi from the League!) as a Daytona Beach drug dealer, and Adam Pally as Efron’s cousin.  At least the writers had the good sense to allow those two to do their crazy guy routines the whole way through Dirty Grandpa.  I wish they had given everyone such free reign.  I was just there to laugh and didn’t need everything to be wrapped up perfectly, or at all.

I thought all the lessons really took away from Dirty Grandpa’s momentum, mainly by taking the focus off dirty De Niro.  That hurt this movie a lot because De Niro as the dirty old guy is by far the best part.  He’s really, really funny, but all too often he’s jolted out of that role when sad Efron calls him the worst grandpa ever (which happens every ten minutes or so).  Take out all the grandpa-grandson make-up sessions and Dirty Grandpa would have been far more enjoyable.

Dirty Grandpa is a decent comedy, much better than I expected, but since the story seriously impedes these characters’ escapades, it seems like an opportunity missed.  I give it a score of seven horny octogenarians out of ten.

We Are Your Friends

we-are-your-friends-imageSo we checked out the new Zac Efron movie last night.

Settle down, settle down. The only real heat came before the movie even started rolling.

We were out at Silver City and there was a scuffle between 4 men and 2 women (and 6 heavy french accents) in our row. The theatre had had to be emptied because security hadn’t had a chance to do proper bag checks and wanding but of course people dragged their heels, hesitant to leave their precious seats. When we eventually got back in, the clever draping they’d done with those flimsy free magazines wasn’t quite enough to make clear their “reservations” and – scandalous! – a couple of women were sitting right where the men had wanted to be sitting! And even though there were plenty of other spots the men could have moved to, or the women for that matter, both groups were equal parts obstinate and hard-headed, and a good old-fashioned stand-off ensued. Security was called but even they couldn’t convince either group to budge, at which time I said pointedly to Sean “Want to move? Let’s move.” Yes, it was a means to an end, but I’d also decided that no matter who won, they were losers, and I didn’t really want to spend the next two hours sitting beside them. So Sean and I moved down toward the front while the rest of the theatre applauded and security thanked us profusely.

We Are Your Friends is about a group of young, 20-something friends who are still trying to Screen-Shot-2015-06-01-at-12_43_12-PMfigure out who they are and what they want to be when they group up (and yet are still more mature than the feuding 40-somethings in our theatre). Zac Efron plays an aspiring DJ who believes that all he needs to be successful is “a laptop, some talent, and 1 track”. So he’s always working on that one track, and veteran\famous DJ James Reed (Wes Bentley) sort of takes him under his wing and shows him a slightly more authentic approach to creating music from computers.

This movie is not very interesting or realistic but it did succeed at making me feel awfully old (and I think I’m maybe 5 year older than Zac). But the truth is, “kids today” are learning to DJ with their iphones and their macbooks. I used to date a DJ, back when a DJ booth was tricked out with gear, decks and controllers and motherfucking turntables. Sounds were mixed from vinyl, not Apple. Some things appear to have stayed the same: the obsessive recording, the 456256284-e1432736645105ubiquitous headphones, and the lifestyle of drinks and drugs and all-night parties. But the culture is different. Efron and friends believe they can be rich and famous doing these gigs. DJs used to live in obscurity. They got paid for their work, but they were background players unless they managed to hook up with a Fresh Prince. Today they have whole festivals devoted to EDM; 20 000 people watching 1 guy slightly adjusting levers on a box hooked up to his laptop. Calvin Harris was 2014’s highest-paid DJ, raking in $66 million dollars, but even making half that like Avicii and Steve Aoki is pretty decent scratch for kids who started with your basic bass sample and have evolved into beat scientists.

The movie manages to be pretty clichéd about a subject matter we’ve rarely seen on-screen (and no, Anna Kendrick’s turn as an “alternative” masher-upper of pop songs in Pitch Perfect doesn’t count); it’s vapid, but stylish as hell (so trendy it’ll probably look dated 10 minutes from now). It strikes me as Entourage-Lite: the millennial take on ambition and aimlessness. Take that for what you will.