Weekend Forecast for May 9-11, 2014
By Reagen Sulewski
May 9, 2014
It's not quite the giant film that the summer season started with last weekend, but adjusting for genre and star power, this weekend's biggest new film may be playing in the same ballpark.
Neighbors is your classic culture-clash comedy, pitting a suburban couple (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) against a group of college students (led by Zac Efron) when they move next door to their frat. The harassment starts immediately, with the frat brothers viewing Rogen and Byrne as a perfect target for pranks and general butt-monkey treatment. There's probably something interesting sociologically that the straight-laced/uptight family protecting their property value is regarded as the sympathetic figures, and the Animal House-esque group of authority-rebellers are the antagonists. Particularly, that the All-American looking Efron (playing way against type here, or at least the dark side of his type) is the leader of their leader and that the schlubby Rogen is the viewer's representative. Times have changed, man. Something something zeitgeist.
An R-rated raunch-fest, it seems to want to be this summer's The Hangover, in being a film that captures a little bit of attention on opening weekend and builds throughout the summer because of its “gotta see it!” outrageousness. Reviews don't quite support that notion, although they're quite positive, just not “This is the comedy of the summer!” positive.
But other things working for this film are the heavy ad blitz for this, its simple, yet dynamite presence, and its interesting pairing in the leads. Rogen has been an inconsistent draw throughout his career, needing to be in pretty much exactly the right project to succeed. There's a natural jerkiness to him that needs to be balanced in just the right way, a la Knocked Up. This Is the End seemed to do that for him last year, but again relied on a great premise. Efron, meanwhile, has had troubles transitioning from teen idol status. Things looked great for him with 17 Again, and he had a decent hit with the straight-up romance The Lucky One, but his recent films have either been limited releases or limited appealing films, with this winter's That Awkward Moment never really finding a footing or any kind of cross-over appeal. Here, I can see cross-sector audiences going for the film, and the 1+1 of the two leads equalling 3, leading to around a $35 million opening weekend.
How desperate are parents for family entertainment? Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return seems to want to test that theory. An animated film with a budget in the dozens of dollars, it's set immediately after the events of The Wizard of Oz, with Dorothy yanked back to help her friends from a villain named The Jester. A musical, like the original live-action film, it boasts a fairly strong voice cast, particularly when taking singing into account, including Lea Michelle as Dorothy, Megan Hilty, Martin Short, Bernadette Peters, Kelsey Grammer and then some that are not... so known for their singing, like Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Oliver Platt.