Kam On Film: ‘Neighbors,’ ‘Half Of A Yellow Sun’ and What’s New In Theaters Kam Williams May 14, 2014 Columns Neighbors Universal Pictures Rated R for crude humor, graphic sexuality, full frontal nudity, pervasive profanity, ethnic slurs, and drug and alcohol abuse Couple Confronts Rowdy Frat In Raunchy Revenge Comedy When Kelly (Rose Byrne) and Mac Radner (Seth Rogen) decided to settle down in suburbia, they reasonably expected to raise their newborn in a quiet community. But that dream was threatened soon thereafter, when the local chapter of Delta Psi Beta bought the house next door. As a precautionary measure, the concerned couple introduced themselves to their new neighbors and asked for assurances that there wouldn’t be any wild partying on the premises. Delta Psi’s President, Teddy (Zac Efron), and Vice President, Pete (Dave Franco), did agree to keep the noise down in exchange for a promise from the Radners not to call the police. Nevertheless, it’s not long before the situation spirals out of control. After all, the infamous frat has a well-established reputation for rowdiness, having invented the toga party back in the ’30s and then beer pong in the ’70s. So, today, Teddy feels pressure to match his predecessors’ checkered past. This means he’s inclined to up the ante in terms of outrageous antics, which can only spell trouble for Kelly and Mac once they go back on their word about complaining to the cops, and Delta Psi is placed on probation by the university’s dean, Carol Gladstone (Lisa Kudrow). At that point, all bets are off, and the frat and the newlyweds proceed to square-off in an ever-escalating war of attrition with more losers than winners. That is the point of departure of Neighbors, a relentlessly-raunchy revenge comedy directed by Nicholas Stoller (Get Him To The Greek). Unfortunately, the sophomoric parties prove to be more cruel than clever in their attempts to get even, and the shocking behavior displayed onscreen is invariably more smutty than funny, as it features plenty of prolonged frontal nudity. Plus, the picture’s only good gag, when the office chair jettisons Mac into the ceiling, was totally spoiled by the TV commercials. Otherwise, the film is memorable mostly for its homoerotic humor, as director Stoller is fond of seizing on any excuse to lampoon gay sexuality. First, Kelly kisses a college coed she’s recruiting as a confidante. Then, fraternity pledges are forced to parade naked in a circle while clutching the penis of the guy in front of him. On another occasion, a male student is raped by a classmate seemingly in his sleep, only to later admit that he was aware and welcomed the rude intrusion. And when Teddy and Pete fight over a girl (Halston Sage), they settle their differences in bizarre fashion, namely, by massaging each other’s genitals to see who climaxes first, while appropriating the gangsta’ rap mantra, “Bros before hos!” Throw in the gratuitous use of the “N-word” twice, of anti-Semitism (“You Jews and your f*cking mothers!”), as well as a profusion of misogynistic comments like referring to breasts as “udders,” and there’s little left to recommend about this ugly descent into depravity. Poor (0 stars) Running time: 97 minutes Half Of A Yellow Sun Monterey Media Rated R for violence and sexuality Post-Colonial Nigeria Provides Backdrop For Sweeping Romance Saga Twins Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) and Olanna (Thandie Newton) hail from a well-to-do Nigerian family well-enough connected to send them overseas to college where they majored in business and sociology, respectively. Ironically, while the sisters were acquiring a first-rate Western education inEngland, the independence movement back home was seeking to sever its ties withGreat Britain. After graduating in the early ’60s, they returned to Lagos to launch their careers, only to land in distracting love affairs. Attractive Olanna became the mistress of Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), an outspoken college professor who’d caught the anti-colonial fever, whereas willful Kainene entertained the advances of Richard (Joseph Mawle), a white expatriate writing a book about African art. Sibling rivalry moves Kainene to tease her twin about the philanderer disdainfully referred to as “The Revolutionary.” Nevertheless, Olanna relocates to the bush to be with Odenigbo and his loyal manservant, Ugwu (John Boyega). However, upon subsequently learning that Odenigbo has been unfaithful, she readily rationalizes seducing her sister’s suitor for a one-night stand. The resulting strain on the siblings’ relationship leads to their drifting apart, a development dwarfed by the bloody, three-year civil war which erupts all around them when Biafra secedes from the union. All of the above elements add fuel to the fires of Half Of A Yellow Sun, the highly-anticipated screen version of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s best-selling novel of the same name. The film marks the impressive directorial debut of Biyi Bandele, who also adapted the 543-page opus into a 113-minute saga that walks a fine line between romance drama and sprawling epic. That being said, the picture’s examination of the country’s explosive Christian-Muslim tribal tensions proves to be both timely and compelling, given how they’ve recently resurfaced during the radical group Boko Haram’s current reign of terror. A steamy soap opera unfolding against the backdrop of a cautionary history lesson reminding us that inNigeria, the more things change, the more they stay insane. Very Good (3 stars) Running time: 113 minutes OPENING THIS WEEK Kam’s Kapsules: For movies opening May 16, 2014 Godzilla (PG-13 for intense violence and scenes off destruction) Epic eco-adventure finds the legendary monster reborn and rising to restore balance in the titanic force of nature while humanity stands defenseless. Ensemble includes Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche and Ken Watanabe. Million Dollar Arm (PG for mild epithets and suggestive content) Fact-based drama recounting how sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) traveled all the way to India to recruit some of the Subcontinent’s top cricket pitchers to play major league baseball back in the U.S. Featuring Bill Paxton, Alan Arkin, Aasif Mandvi, Lake Bell and Suraj Sharma. (In English and Hindi with subtitles) 50 To 1 (PG-13 for suggestive material and a bar fight) Fact-based drama chronicling the road trip from New Mexico to Kentucky undertaken by a posse of cowboys when their crooked-footed horse miraculously qualifies for the Derby. Starring Skeet Ulrich, William Devane and Christian Kane. Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case (Unrated) Reverential biopic about Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist and political dissident imprisoned and placed under house arrest for his uncompromising commitment to human rights. (In Mandarin and English with subtitles) The American Nurse (Unrated) Healthcare documentary following five dedicated nurses working in fields ranging from nursing homes to hospice care to prisons to home visitation to obstetrics. Don Peyote (Unrated) Stoner comedy about an unemployed slacker (Dan Fogler) who embarks on a mind-bending drug binge after convincing himself that the end of the world is imminent. Ensemble cast includes Anne Hathaway, Annabella Sciorra, Josh Duhamel, Wallace Shawn, Jay Baruchel and Topher Grace. Horses Of God (Unrated) Islamic fundamentalism is the subject of this docudrama chronicling events in the lives of the terrorist responsible for the 2003 suicide bombings in Casablanca. Co-starring Abdelhakim Rachi, Abdelilah Rachid and Hamza Souidek. (In Arabic and French with subtitles) The Immigrant (R for nudity, sexuality and some profanity) American Dream deferred drama, set inManhattan in 1921, about a young Polish immigrant (Marion Cotillard) pressed into prostitution by a charming pimp (Joaquin Phoenix) soon after passing through customs atEllis Island. Cast includes Jeremy Renner, Angela Sarafyan and Jicky Schnee. (In English and Polish with subtitles) A Night In Old Mexico (Unrated) South of the Border saga about a cranky, cash-strapped curmudgeon (Robert Duvall) who embarks a final wild adventure with his grandson (Jeremy Irvine) rather than quietly retire from his ranch to a trailer park. With Angie Cepeda, Luis Tosar and Joaquin Cosio. A Short History Of Decay (R for profanity and sexual references) Romantic comedy about a just-dumped writer (Bryan Greenberg) from Brooklyn who finds love again when he relocates to Florida to care for his ailing parents (Harris Yulin and Linda Lavin) suffering from a stroke and Alzheimer’s. Support cast features Emmanuelle Chriqui, Kathleen Rose Perkins and Rebecca Dayan. A Touch Of Sin (Unrated) Four discrete crime sagas, set in present day China, each revolving around random acts of violence. Cast includesWu Jiang, Lanshan Luo, Li Meng, Baoqiang Wang, Jia-yi Zhang and Tao Zhao. (In Mandarin, Cantonese and English with subtitles) Wolf Creek 2 (Unrated) Slasher sequel, set in the Australian Outback, where a British tourist’s (Ryan Corr) plans for an idyllic vacation go terribly awry when he’s abducted by a sadistic serial killer (John Jarratt) who drags him to a dungeon. With Shannon Ashlyn, Philippe Klaus and Gerard Kennedy. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.