REVIEW: The Good Neighbor (2016) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: The Good Neighbor (2016)


Good old James Caan, eh?  Even in lesser movies like this, the fact that James Caan is in them warrants attention. If you’re ever stuck or bored, it could pay to just head over to Caan’s IMDb page and pick something out, his career is quite good and underrated.  He’s kind of like Gene Hackman in that regard, a guy who has some under the radar gems out there.  But now we have to discuss this movie, which isn’t all that good, I would have liked it to have been better, but I’m not entirely regretful for watching it.

We have two youngsters Ethan (Logan Miller) and Sean (Keir Gilchrist) who decide to work on an ‘experiment’.  This ‘experiment’ involves breaking into the house of grumpy old neighbor Harold Grainey (Caan) and rigging the place to make it appear as if there’s a ghost in there tearing shit up.  They also install hidden mini cameras all over the place to record how Grainey takes it.  Of course, they get more than they bargained for, with Grainey already being right over at the deep end.  For example, what does he have in the basement?

I feel that this is a movie marked towards teenagers, since most of the movie is told from the perspective of Miller and Gilchrist.  Angst shows its head, along with talk about YouTube video hits and stuff like that.  The film is the second such example in a decade to riff on Rear Window (1954) with Disturbia (2007) being the first, Disturbia is a better movie than this.  Caan has a light workload here, it’s not that there’s a cameo-con at play, rather quite a bit of the movie sees him just sitting around and being monitored by his assailants, there was potential in the theme here that was not fully realised.  As it heads to the end, it puts a lot of stock in its ‘twist’, which was only mildly satisfactory, but kind of made much of what came earlier a bit wasted.

The film tries to comment on surveillance and the addiction of youngsters to screens, but I didn’t really care for that. The best part of the movie is Caan and not really knowing what he’s up to with a given action, in that regard it has some suspense, but it’s average stuff.

I hate to bring up Nicolas Cage at such random intervals like this, but this has to be said.  The way this movie is directed, if Nicolas Cage had been in the role of Harold Grainey, then it could quite easily have been the single most hilarious movie of the 21st century.  For example, in the scene where the teens rig a door to smash open and close, simulating poltergeist activity, instead of being spooked Grainey savages the door with an axe.  Had this been played by Cage…