Which Controversial Neighbors Joke Did The Director Have To Fight To Keep In?
So many of you caught Neighbors over the weekend. Director Nicholas Stollerís parents-versus-frat-kids comedy steamrolled over The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with a whopping $51 million, good for the top slot at the box office.
One of the downfalls of seeing a movie like Neighbors on opening weekend is that youíre seeing it with a packed house, and the laughter of the crowd can drown out certain lines Ė follow up jokes to the already big laughs. That almost happened to me in Austin when I attended the filmís world premiere at the South By Southwest film festival. One scene received SUCH a huge laugh that you couldnít hear the next five lines of dialogue because the theater was just too noisy, rowdy and fired up by the hilarious joke.
When I mentioned this to Nicholas Stoller the next day, he told me a great story about how that joke almost didnít even make it into the movie, and how they had to fight to get it included at all. Iíll go into detail, but stop reading if you havenít yet seen Neighbors and donít want this joke spoiled.
So, you know that Seth Rogen and Rose Byrneís baby eats a condom left on the lawn by the frat. That joke has been in the trailers (seen above)Ö but the follow up has not. Jason Mantzoukas (The Dictator, Baby Mama) plays a doctor who meets with Rogen and Byrne. He enters the scene and says, "Your baby has HIV." And after a brutally long pause, continues, "Is how bad this could have gone." Our theater erupted. But the joke almost didnít make the cut.
Nicholas Stoller told me that during the editing process, they left too much of a pause between the two lines. And in that delicate moment, the test audiences felt that the movie had gone too far. He said:
We timed it wrong. He says, ĎYour baby has HIV,í and the pause was too long. And the audience was like, ĎFuck this movie!í They turned on us. We sat that and they told us that we had to cut that joke. And I said, "Letís just try it. Letís just try. I swear, if we just trim frames, we can make this work!í"
And they did. To me, itís the funniest joke in a very funny movie. And itís always interesting to hear the behind-the-scenes information to learn about humor that almost doesnít even make it into the final cut. Not that Neighbors would have been better or worse with or without that joke. The plot doesnít hinge on it. But years from now, after the frat-boy party humor of the movie has faded, Iíll be able to walk up to a close friend and tell them, "Your baby has HIV," and miraculously, they will laugh. Thanks for that, Nicholas Stoller.
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