Neighbors

neighbors_1981_film_posterYear: 1981

Synopsis: Earl and Elaine Keese have a quiet and boring suburban life until new neighbors move into the long empty house next door.

Pros:
• Belushi (Earl) and Aykroyd (Vic) play their sometimes opposing roles brilliantly, as their characters were fully against type.
• The surreal touch of unreliable narrator (largely Earl’s point of view) make it unclear how much was real.
• Plays with the awkwardness and unpredictability of new neighbors.

Cons:
• The surreal underpinnings can make the film hard to follow or fully understand.
• Some might be disappointed to see little of Belushi’s trademark physical humor or Aykroyd’s deadpan wit.
• John Belushi’s last film before his accidental overdose.

Discussion:
Neighbors might just be the strangest dark comedy ever made. Yet, the unpredictability of meeting new neighbors can be strange for some. Earl’s erratic behavior was suggestive of the character fighting with himself. He was not truly happy, but was used to how he felt with his life. Then, free-spirited new neighbors appear. He also seemed to have an overactive imagination, perhaps subconsciously compensating for his plain life. That element made everything that happened questionable. Themes of self-delusion as a psychological time bomb were also in full view in films such as American Psycho (2000) and A Serious Man (2009). In those films, the characters were all living at first in a world they were accustomed to in a delusion of comfort, and either partly found solace in a questionable reality or had objective reality nearly destroy them. In films involving self-delusion, the kind of reality the protagonists found themselves might always be debatable in some way. Did Bateman kill all those people for fun to find meaning? Can Larry come to terms with objective reality before it possibly destroys him? Did Earl not have crazy new neighbors and simply had a nervous breakdown over his nothing-life? When one’s truth becomes subjective, perhaps the best we can do is laugh at the insanity with the family portrait around our neck.


Rotten Tomatoes — 63%

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