What does anyone in Hollywood know? You can make a movie with absolutely no likeable characters.
Neil LaBute does exactly that with this highly anticipated follow-up to In the Company of Men, a film so anti-humanity it's practically a sequel.
Sadly, LaBute doesn't quite pull off Your Friends and Neighbors, and compared to Company (a film that was this critic's #1 film of 1997), it pales considerably.
Why? Well, turns out there's just not much of a story here. Sure, each of these characters are bizarre and twisted enough to amuse you through the 99-minute running time of the picture, but in the end, you realize there really wasn't much of a point to any of it. And LaBute has engineered it that way: he doesn't want you to get attached to these people. In fact, the characters don't even have names! (However, they are "named" in the credits of the film.)
Just look at the roll call: Keener couldn't look worse if you dragged her through mud. Eckhart must have gained 50 pounds for his bohunk role (and not in a good way). Brenneman is a nearly frigid woman who still makes room for adultery. Stiller is a total basket case. Kinski is apparently a brainless moron. And Patric, well, you'll just have to hear some of his misogynistic prattle to believe what they've done to him. Oddly, Patric's sadistic OB/GYN is the most compelling player in the bunch, for sheer shock value alone. Still, it goes to show that just because you can make a movie with six hateful characters... doesn't mean you should.
Neighbors also suffers from hideous cinematography (by Nancy Schreiber) which is out of focus half the time and bad editing (by Joel Plotch) that feels pieced together with scissors and snot. Altogether, LaBute just seems out of sorts doing an ensemble piece that tries to tell too many stories but ends up telling them all badly.
Not that I blame him for trying. It certainly was an ambitious project and it does have some pretty hilarious moments.
Better luck next time.