Neighbors (1981)

“We might have had a wonderful relationship. But then, as Arthur Bremer once said, ‘How many things go right in this crazy world?'”

Synopsis:
Staid suburbanite Earl Keese (John Belushi) must deal with his obnoxious new neighbors (Dan Aykroyd and Cathy Moriarty), who seem hell-bent on disrupting his peaceful life.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary points out, “if you’ve [ever] had crummy and incorrigible neighbors”, you’ll definitely be able to relate to this unfairly maligned black comedy, starring John Belushi in his final screen appearance. Both Belushi and Aykroyd are cleverly cast against type in roles meant for each other: Belushi plays a “dull, ineffectual, married, [bespectacled] suburbanite”, while Dan Aykroyd is his pathologically lying, thoroughly obnoxious neighbor. Though most reviewers and audience members at the time panned this film, I agree with Peary that it’s actually a reasonably entertaining “surreal comedy”. As Peary notes, Aykroyd’s character may be incredibly annoying, but at least “he provides [Belushi] with the first excitement he’s had in years”. I’ll admit, however, that I would have preferred a different story arc, with Belushi getting revenge on his nemeses rather than cynically joining them.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Dan Aykroyd playing against type as a blonde neo-Nazi (!)
    Neighbors Aykroyd
  • Belushi spying on Aykroyd as he mixes up a “special batch” of spaghetti sauce

Must See?
No, but Belushi fans will certainly want to check it out.

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One Response to “Neighbors (1981)”

  1. Excruciating.

    If you go to http://www.imdb.com, you will see a surprising number of fans seeking the film’s DVD release (it’s available for viewing at http://www.mystic-nights.com). You will also find another number: those who think it’s among the worst films ever made. I’m afraid I’m with those guys.

    This is just awful. Monumentally unfunny. And apparently not content to be merely that. Fiercely adamant about breaking its own rules, it’s wildly inconsistent and has no desire at all to cozy up to logic of any kind. (For example, it’s one thing for Belushi’s wife – played by Kathryn Walker – to be bored with him; it’s another for her to completely throw allegiance out the window and appear mentally challenged in front of Aykroyd’s nitwit character. As well, why do we get all of the instances in which constantly doubted Aykroyd is shown to have been trustworthy…when he’s too self-serving to care whether he is seen that way or not?) Nothing really happens for any reason here – the “neighbors from hell” idea is simply taken in any mindless direction ‘somebody’ whimsically thought would pass as black comedy.

    All of which might possibly have been forgiven if any of the cast members had anything funny to say. (I do not know Thomas Berger’s novel; I *do* know screenwriter Larry Gelbart’s work – a lot of it – and to say what he serves up here is embarrassing does not begin to cover it.) What you continually get is a tired, desperate variation of something you got in the first five minutes: the neighbors are nuts.

    None of the (often over-compensating) acting works either – except perhaps one of Moriarty’s moments near the end, in which we (finally) learn something surprising.

    Rumor has it the film had enormous (esp. personality) problems behind-the-scenes. Some claim the film could have been – what, better realized??? – with a different director. Uh…no. With a much better script…quite possibly.

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