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Trailer Roundup: The Boxtrolls and The Interview

This week brings us Laika's latest stop-motion film and Seth Rogen and James Franco's newest comedy.

New International Trailer for The Boxtrolls

This trailer shows off the most plot we've seen yet from the movie, but fails to live up to the heights of the amazing initial teasers released (here and here). The Boxtrolls is hand-made by Laika studios, which has an amazing track record of critically acclaimed, forward thinking stop-motion films (Coraline, Paranorman). This trailer shows the incredible craftsmanship and design that goes into these films, giving us glimpses of the big bad villains and the heartwarming story about an unconventional family. I can't wait to see The Boxtrolls when it comes out September 26, 2014.

Trailer Rating: 4/5 Stars

First Trailer for The Interview

This trailer shows Seth Rogen (Neighbors) and James Franco (This is The End) attempting to assassinate Kim Jong Un when they go to North Korea to interview him. Directed by Seth Rogen and Seth Goldberg (the team that directed This is The End) this trailer shows that perhaps the concept is funnier than the execution. Then again, it didn't seem to be trying too hard to be funny, as much as it was meant to establish a dark comedic atmosphere in which Franco and Rogen can be free to improvise (what I'm sure will be) hilarious content. Because the movie has so much potential, hopefully we will see more funny content in the promotional material before The Interview comes out October 10, 2014.

Trailer Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

First Trailer for Birdman

Our final trailer is for an upcoming dark comedy where Michael Keaton (Batman) plays a washed up actor famous for playing a famous superhero. He must put his ego aside when he tries to recapture his former glory with a broadway play based on the superhero movie. The film is directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu (Babel) and also stars Edward Norton (Fight Club) and Emma Stone (Easy A). The visuals look pretty inventive, matching a unique visual style with a tone that suggest things will get out of control pretty quickly. Though I hadn't heard of the film before today, this trailer made me very excited for the movie. Birdman comes out October 17, 2014.

Trailer Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Review: Neighbors

Equal parts clever, gross, and cute. A celebration of partying, and a melancholy look at what it means to grow up.

Neighbors is a funny new comedy about a couple with a newborn baby who face unforeseen obstacles when a frat moves into the house next door. This premise lends itself to escalating parties, pranks, and conflict. While the film is packed to the brim with gags, many of which are gasp inducing or laugh out loud funny, it ultimately succeeds by giving both sides interesting characters you can simultaneously root for and against.

It stars Seth Rogen (This is the End) and Rose Byrne (Insidious) as a young couple trying to be good parents and remain cool at the same time. In the frat next door, Zac Efron (That Awkward Moment) plays the president, fully committed to the brotherhood, and Dave Franco (21 Jump Street) plays his vice president/best friend who is more focused on his future.

This is director Nicolas Stoller's funniest movie since 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall. At times, the laughing was so loud in the packed theater that I couldn't hear the dialogue for the next joke. However, the type of humor jumps all over the place. This is the kind of movie that uses both male and female nudity for comedic effect, yet also focuses entire scenes on escalating puns or a baby dressed in a series of adorable costumes. What I mean by this is that is it has few boundaries, and will go pretty much anywhere for a joke.

While there are funny moments in either the individual family or frat scenes, the comedy is at its highest when the two worlds collide. Watching the Rogen and Byrne trying a little too hard to play it cool when first visiting the frat is fun. Things really escalate however, when the animosity comes out between them. A scene at a party where Byrne has to manipulate Franco into hooking up with Efron's girlfriend drew applause from the crowd.

The party scenes are visually exciting and fun to watch, but also slightly problematic because they seem gratuitous at times, glorifying a frat lifestyle that the movie criticizes at other points. Where the film succeeds is painting the characters on both sides as flawed but likable. For all its celebration of partying and revenge there is a melancholy undertone showing the dangers of clinging to the past and romanticizing youth.

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In its first half, the film features quite a few fun cameos from unexpected comedians to keep things interesting. The pacing slows after the climax of the film. The final confrontation includes an amazing scene of physical comedy, but what follows doesn't have quite the payoff one would expect. Still, the movie ends on a satisfying, if smartly downbeat note.

Ultimately, Neighbors is a highly satisfying and hilarious revenge movie set in a frat house. We become invested in the character not because of the escalating gags, but because they are depicted with subtlety and nuance, which underscore the occasionally melancholy tone. All of the main actors are given comedic moment in which they can shine, and there are quite a few moments that made me gasp and/or laugh out loud.

Neighbors comes out on May 9, 2014.

Rating: 8/10 Stars