'Neighbors' Is Part Buster Keaton, Part Gaspar Noe

Neighbors

When the upcoming summer comedy Neighbors premiered at the South by Southwest film festival, the cast and filmmakers answered some questions from fans who had just seen the film. These are a few spoilers from the movie, in which a fraternity moves in next door to a pair of new parents. The fraternity parties get pretty wild, waking up Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne)’s baby. Director Nicholas Stoller had an unusual reference for his party sequences.

“I’ve had some practice shooting parties from the movie Get Him to the Greek,” Stoller said. “I wanted the parties in this movie to look better than those parties and to be crazier and to make you feel like you were at the craziest party you’ve ever been at. So one of my big visual touchstones was Enter the Voice, the Gaspar Noe [movie]. It’s a crazy, crazy movie that is used only as a visual touchstone, nothing else. [Cinematographer] Brandon [Trost] and I talked a lot about a lot of different light sources, different crazy colored lights and stuff and you can do that at a fraternity because that’s really how kids do their houses. You can’t do it in a normal house.”

When the battle heats up between fraternity president Teddy (Zac Efron) and Mac, Teddy steals airbags from cars and places them in Mac’s chairs. The airbags launch Mac out of frame, in a visual gag that’s as old school as they come.

“I think me and Evan [Goldberg] might’ve come up with it,” Rogen said. “When we’re supposed to be writing, we waste tons of time watching YouTube videos. There’s these hilarious videos of these mean people putting airbags in their friends chairs. They blast and it looks exactly like that, and it would just make us laugh so hard. We would just always watch those videos and then we thought that could be a funny thing to put in a movie 17 times. So that’s what we did. It’s a dummy. I become digitally replaced with a dummy halfway through the shot. Really high tech sh*t. It’s a technique Buster Keaton made in 1903.”

The raunchy comedy features plenty of sex too. Dave Franco recalls some of Stoller’s directing. “[My] favorite interaction with Nick Stoller the director was during my awkward sex scene,” Franco said. “I did the first couple takes and then Nick ran upstairs, he leans in and he’s like, ‘Hey Dave, just more jackrabbit.’”

Neighbors opens May 9.

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