Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: Neighbors vs. That Awkward Moment, two bro-out comedies starring Zac Efron.
PremiseIf Oscar bait movies aren’t your thing, fear not. Two bro-tastic and wonderfully lowbrow comedies are coming out soon. First up: Neighbors, in which a family finds out its new neighbors consist of an entire frat house. Needless to say, the two don’t get along splendidly. That Awkward Moment explores three male best friends (Miles Teller, Zac Efron, and Michael B. Jordan) who begin new relationships and have to decide whether or not to take them further. Neither of these is particularly inspired, but since the men (or boys, rather) in this genre behave as if they’re living in a giant frat house, we’re going to give the advantage to the movie that decided to make it literal.Advantage: Neighbors
Zac EfronLucky us (and you), Zac Efron stars in both of these movies. In Neighbors, he plays the lead fraternity brother, BBQ’ing shirtless and feuding with the young family next door. That Awkward Moment gives us more traditional Zac: an impossibly hot and impossibly nice (until he’s not at all nice) love interest. We’re ready to see Zac get down with his bad self.Advantage: Neighbors
CastAside from aforementioned Zac, both of these films boast pretty impressive casts. Neighbors has comedy king Seth Rogen playing the dad next door, and Rose Byrne, who was hilarious in Bridesmaids, plays his wife. Hilarious Dave Franco—if you don’t yet find him hilarious, check out his work on Funny or Die—also stars playing a fellow frat boy. That Awkward Moment has three shining faces of young male acting: along with Efron, Miles Teller who charmed us and broke our hearts in The Spectacular Now, and Michael B. Jordan, who gave one of the year’s best performances in Fruitvale Station. We already knew Teller was funny, but it will be great to see Jordan embrace a lighter role. Plus, we can’t wait too see how these three young men interact. One question we have for the director, though, is: was Efron standing on a box? Or did they carve a ditch in the middle of Elizabeth Street for Teller and Jordan? We’re pretty sure those dudes are not really the same height. Advantage: That Awkward Moment
VerisimilitudeOkay, maybe you don’t go to the movies for a heavy dose of reality. Still, it’s nice when films generally obey the laws of physics. Both of these look heavy on the physical comedy: in Neighbors, Seth Rogen’s character hits a ceiling after sitting on an airbag, and Miles Teller’s character in That Awkward Moment gets hit by a pretty speedy cab—we’re guessing he’ll be fine, though. Were the fraternity accommodations at your college that nice? We’re guessing no. Ditto for three heterosexual, young, single males living in New York City. Did you see that apartment?Advantage: Neither
DirectorThis one’s a no-brainer. Neighbors is directed by Nicholas Stoller, who made the hilarious Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Five Year Engagement. He also made the shockingly well-reviewed Muppets movies. This is That Awkward Moment’s Tom Gormican’s first film, and while we love to support new talent, we’re dying to laugh as hard as we did in Sarah Marshall.Advantage: NeighborsThe VerdictBoth movies look genuinely funny, and provide a much-needed break from all the pre-awards ceremony dramas. However, it’s hard to create an original rom-com these days. Even if That Awkward Moment isn’t totally traditional, it still has slow-dance scenes, a sexist “women can’t give it up” joke, a vaguely homophobic (but in good fun) “don’t hug me with your pants off” joke, and a few lines that seem to come right from When Harry Met Sally. Neighbors might employ some tropes too, but it does so with a sly wink and a ton of Robert De Niro impressions, so we’re in.Winner: Neighbors