Neighbors (1981)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy of Manners, Farce  |   Release Date - Dec 18, 1981 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Michael Hastings

Director John G. Avildsen's deliberate miscasting of Saturday Night Live legends Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi was greeted with skepticism and piddling box-office receipts upon Neighbors' release in 1981. Years removed from its belly flop, however, the black comedy -- uneven as it is -- stands as a testament to Belushi's skill, proving that he could play a seething, constipated suburbanite as well as he could command attention as a loose-cannon hedonist. Blessed with a devious script by Tootsie scribe Larry Gelbart, Neighbors provides an effective, if self-satisfied, swipe at settling down, and it doesn't lose the courage of its satirical convictions, as proved by the film's blessedly ironic denouement. Unfortunately, Aykroyd makes a particularly enervating thorn in Belushi's side, and Avildsen tends to play up the slapstick set pieces at the expense of the film's more low-key material (the kind Belushi excels at in the opening scenes). Stunt-casting comedies like this always derive their laughs from the tension of watching an unnaturally bottled-up lead performer and waiting for the inevitable eruption. But, in Neighbors, Belushi disappears so completely into his role, it's almost disappointing to watch him flip his lid.