Neighbors made $51 million this weekend, which is about as much as Spider-Man 27, The Other Woman and Heaven Is For Real combined. It’s an easy movie in the way the best Apatow spin-offs and descendants are: There are no real villains, all adults are basically children, and everyone is eventually rehabilitated.
It’s also incredibly careful in its representation of fraternities, which are painted as silly but never sinister. A former fraternity brother might watch this movie and feel empowered or proud. Certainly he wouldn’t feel embarrassed. He might feel handsome! At the very least he would feel relieved, after years of defending his own experience in the context of widespread and intensifying revelations of hazing, sexual assault and general campus deleteriousness. In the movie, both hazing and rape are dispensed with in short, knowing sequences; the men of this movie are buffoons, but they’re more or less enlightened. Little about their personas or their parties is dark — the guys are never shown in the context of their university, possibly because doing so coherently would be impossible. They’re just wacky, college-adjacent stoners with great physiques and flexible schedules.
Anyway, thank god for the Daily News, who found a “real life” version of Neighbors unfolding in Queens, where fraternity brothers are hosting all-night parties and scrawling obscene graffiti without the help of professional screenwriters:
The latest mess — written in permanent black ink — will be left for all to see long after the co-eds leave for the summer, they said.
“There are a lot of kids here,” said resident Allan Punsalan, who lives two houses down from the frat. “They play on the block. “That’s pretty bad….”
A 22-year-old SJU senior who declined to give his last name insisted the messages were “just in joke.”
“My retarded friend did it,” said the student, Douglas, who promised to clean up and keep it down. “I didn’t think we were doing anything to disturb them, honestly. We just watch sports here. We had one small party.”
Yeeesss, yessssss, that’s more like it. This is what frats are really best at: Preserving teenage nastiness through the four years that are supposed to extinguish it.