The Seth Rogen / Zac Efron comedy is now in the top 5 highest grossing R-rated comedies of all time. I know I helped make that boost this past weekend. But let’s not let the memory of the other R-rated comedy of the same title fade away into the bowels of a random itunes movie search, because nowadays, that’s the only way you’re going to find this rare gem. And by gem, I mean one of the weirdest comedies you’ll ever see.
1981’s Neighbors comparitively to Rogen’s character in the popular version stars John Belushi as Earl, the straight-laced husband and father who in the beginning of the film realizes without warning new neighbors have moved in next door. Dan Aykroyd plays the Zac Efron-esque new neighbor who goes by the name Vic. A no rules, party all night, unpredictable douchebag that makes Belushi’s quiet life a living hell. Not to mention he may, or may not be a Nazi.
Earl’s nightmare not only comes from Vic, the smart-mouthed, conniving neighbor, but also Vic’s wife (or girlfriend…or sister, we never really know) Ramona, who joins in on the psychological warfare.
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This movie, by far, is one of the strangest comedies I’ve ever seen, teetering into elements of science fiction in similar style to a Twilight Zone episode, with the movie often playing the Twilight Zone theme in certain moments to let the audience know that it has no problem “going there”. Although Neighbors is in short a bizarro comedy, the tone often switches to dark and serious from one moment to the next.
At one point in Vic’s house, Vic treats Earl to a cup of coffee with Earl already paranoid that it might be poisoned. Earl continues to switch his cup with Vic’s as Vic playfully figures out ways to switch them back when Vic finally pulls out a shotgun and sticks it in Earl’s face.
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This is one of the many scenes where we realize Vic is literally insane.
The relationship between Vic and Earl is more psychological than the Rogen/Efron version that is merely a battle of annoyances. The strangest part of the relationship between Vic and Earl is the cause. In the newest version of Neighbors, it all begins with a noise complaint. But with this version, we have no idea what is catapulting their relationship into such a random discourse of insanity, which makes the movie that much more interesting.
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Personally, I did enjoy the Rogen version this weekend and did laugh quite a bit, but that’s not to say weirder comedies are any lesser in value. I’d hate to see this version disappear from the minds of movie fans looking for something a little different than jokes about weed and breast milk because there’s not a whole lot of variety when it comes to the newer films released nowadays so why not enjoy the ones you may have missed. Especially this rarity that is so far down the movie food chain, the only way for you to watch it is by buying it on itunes (or getting a VHS from Amazon if you’re that guy), which I can’t help but recommend.
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