Any home owner and apartment renter will tell you that, while it’s nice if your place has a beautiful backyard or a built in fire place, what’s going to make or break your happy little haven that you’ll call home are the people that live next door. Ending up with a bad neighbor is equivalent to having a horrible marriage. These people learn your quirky little habits, they’ll see you at your worst moments (say, before having your first cup of coffee), and there is absolutely no escaping them. Neighbors have a front row seat to your world and if you let them, they have the power to make your life a terrible existence.
Like any source of evil, there are many different types of awful neighbors, but some are harder to pick out than others. In honor of the upcoming horror film Fright Night, which deals with its own kind of a sucky neighbor, I’ve decided to break down the many villainous neighbors that have placated our screens in both television and film. Pay attention to the signs and remember that while all of them may not be a serial killer or blood-thirsty vampire, that doesn’t make them any less dangerous.
The Nuisance: Steve Urkel in Family Matters: Did I do that? Every TGIF watcher learned to fall in love with the geek next door, Steve Urkel, in the hit comedy show Family Matters. You may find him humorous, but could you imagine actually having to put up with that high pitched, trouser-wearing nerd every single day? Sure you learn to love him on your television screen because he’s endearingly pitiful and needs some lovin'—plus you could always hit the off switch. But consider a real life Urkel, a neighbor who would have no mute button and would constantly be trying to hoard in on your family gatherings and hitting on your daughter (even if he has no chance of succeeding). The danger of a true nuisance lies in the fact that they have no idea just how annoying they are. If you tell them, you end up feeling guilty, but if you don’t…better go talk to your realtor. The Peeping Tom: Kale in Disturbia: Alright, I know in the movie Disturbia, Shia LaBeouf’s character, Kale, isn’t the one we should be worrying about, but follow my train of thought for a minute. If Kale hadn’t been peeping into his neighbor’s windows like a genuine creeper, then he wouldn’t have witnessed the murders that the man across the street was committing and wouldn’t have been targeted as the next victim. When the guy finally confronts Kale and is about to introduce him to the grim reaper, he says he wanted to live in peace, but the kid had to go snooping around where he didn’t belong. Granted, it’s never comforting to be living next to a killer, but I’d rather be blissfully unaware than the next target. Save the mystery-solving for the police. Let’s remember, this kid was under house arrest for assaulting a teacher, so he’s already got enough to deal with let alone trying to play detective with a murder that he’s not even sure he actually witnessed. If he had just put down the binoculars and played video games all day like a normal high school boy, then he wouldn’t have gotten into this mess. Peeping Tom neighbors are trying to pry themselves into your personal life while leaving you completely unaware of what’s going on. You’re eating breakfast, they’re watching; you’re watching TV, they’re watching; you’re getting undressed, they’re watching – it’s perv alert to the max and you don’t want to have to be worrying about that funny business. So if you ever get the feeling that you’re being watched yet no one seems to be around…well, you’ve been warned. The Moocher: Cosmo Kramer in Seinfeld: With a name like Cosmo Kramer you can expect his neighborly shenanigans to be out of this world. Seinfeld itself may be a show about absolutely nothing, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t accidentally touch on some real life issues. Kramer’s whole “what’s yours is mine” philosophy could become a huge hindrance on your life if he was living right across the hall. Eating your food, entering without knocking—he has all the mannerisms of a ballsy roommate with none of the relief of splitting the rent. Boundaries do not exist for him and he genuinely thinks you enjoy his company so he will never ever stop. And it’s not like you can return the favor and crash in on his nut house because he owns absolutely nothing that you want (unless you really like the idea of cooking in your shower). It’s a one way street right from the beginning, so unless you feel like some 24/7 company, I’d look into getting a deadbolt on your door ASAP. The Flirt: Rose in Two and a Half Men: Even ladies man Charlie Harper sometimes had regrets about his magnetic effect he had on women in Two and a Half Men. While guys might think it’d be cool to have a neighbor hitting on them, it can actually be even more dangerous than a nuisance or a moocher combined. Charlie’s neighbor, Rose, had a one night stand with him, but then developed an obsession which led to full-on stalker psycho. The show makes it out to be this adorable little cat and mouse game where Rose watches Charlie sleep, finds ways to get into his house, acts like they’re a couple—the usual loony bin tactics. But it’s all fun and games until they have you tied up with a knife to your man parts swearing to cut them off if you don’t love them forever. Yeah, it can get dark quickly and you don’t want to mess with a girl who’s in love. So if a neighbor starts giving you the eye gentlemen, remember that if things don’t end well she’ll still be right next door. You might want to think about if she’s worth all the crazy that’s sure to be coming your way. The Menace: Dennis Mitchell in Dennis the Menace: Oh Mr. Wilson! Hearing those high-pitched adolescent screeches is enough to make chills run up your back. Even though I’m sure you’re thinking right now, "He’s just a kid!" I dare you to babysit a destructive, sugar-crazed, little boy for a few hours and still tell me it’s no big deal. Kids, on their own, can be a handful, but one that is purposely trying to cause mayhem is downright evil. Young people have no filter and their sense of right and wrong is hazardously blurry—there’s no telling how far their antics will go. In the family film Dennis the Menace, Mr. Wilson develops a soft spot for the little rascal, Dennis Mitchell, and the two end up bonding. Let’s be honest: that would never happen in real life. Dennis is a little ball of mischief that does everything from accidentally putting paint in Mr. Wilson's steak to shooting an aspirin into his mouth with a slingshot. Bad news all around. The whole point of a menace is that they are insufferable to be around. Their sole purpose is to make life difficult for you and leave a path of destruction in their wake. My advice to you is if you ever come across such a neighbor, head quickly and quietly in the opposite direction. The Relative: Frank and Marie Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond: While all of the neighbors I’ve listed are bad, it’s even worse when it comes to family ties. Blood runs thicker than water and family always makes sure you never forget it. Look at poor Ray and Debra in Everybody Loves Raymond. Ray’s parents, Frank and Marie Barone, live directly across the street from them and are constantly interfering with the married couple’s lives. Whether it’s making them a delicious, home-cooked meal with a side of guilt, or voicing their blunt opinions all in the name of “love,” their attempts to control Ray and Debra's adult lives are enough to drive anyone mad. You may have been able to survive in the same house with your parents for the first 18 years of your life, but that doesn’t mean you should risk your sanity even further. Marie thinks it's a mother's right and job to be nosy, so she has no qualms about pitting Ray and Debra against each other in order to get the outcome that she deems right. There’s nothing more dangerous than the power a parent can wield over their child. What makes relative neighbors so much more dangerous is the fact that whether you move to the next town, the next state, or even the next continent, you’ll still always be related to them. You’d see them at holidays, birthdays, and family functions. So even if you somehow managed to escape their neighborly grasp, you’ll still never fully be rid of them. The Hit Man: Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski in The Whole Nine Yards: Obviously living next door to anyone whose job is to kill people for a living should send up an immediate red flag that this isn’t going to end well. In The Whole Nine Yards, Nick "Oz" Oseransky helps illustrate just how terrible things can get when a professional hit man, Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski, moves in next door. I have a hard enough time trying to do the laundry, make dinner, and get some sort of work out done in my daily routine, I don’t want to have to worry about my neighbor offing me as well. If this is a job that they’re trained to do, then you know they’re going to be good at it, which makes them monumentally dangerous. Hit men generally don’t develop a friendship with their target like Jimmy did with Nick, so don’t rely on your charm or humor for a get-out-of death free card cause it won’t end well for you. It’s definitely tricky to spot such a neighbor since they’ll more than likely keep to themselves, but if you notice their hobbies consist of target practice and martial arts, you may want to make sure you don’t have any crazy enemies out there looking to get revenge. The Supernatural: Jerry in Fright Night: This is the epitome of all villainous neighbors that you need to be weary of. In a world where regular humans can be hazardous neighbors to be around...can you imagine if you add supernatural powers into the mix? Don’t let those Twilight movies fool you—vampires are dangerous and want one thing, and one thing only: your blood. In the upcoming horror flick, Fright Night, a high school senior discovers his new neighbor, Jerry, is a vampire and ultimately tries to get everyone else to believe him. First, if you realize you have a blood sucking vampire living next door to you, don’t go talking about it to everyone. Vampires have incredible hearing capabilities and can smell a nark a mile away. Second, you better have some solid evidence to prove your theory or else everyone’s going to just assume you’re a nut case. So unless you want to walk around wearing crosses, garlic, and silver for the rest of your life, I recommend you follow the sun right out of dodge immediately. Because if your thirsty friend gets wind that you know their little secret, they’ll come knocking on your door wanting to borrow more than just a cup of sugar.
The Whole Ten Yards picks up about two years after the events that changed the lives of Oz (Matthew Perry) Jimmy "The Tulip" (Bruce Willis) Jill (Amanda Peet) and Cynthia (Natasha Henstridge)--and made them a whole lot richer. Nice-guy dentist Oz is now married to Jimmy's ex-wife Cynthia and living in Brentwood Calif. where he still practices dentistry. They seem happy but Oz is so paranoid someone will come after him that he keeps an arsenal of weapons in his home which is teeming with high-tech surveillance equipment. His suspicions however are not so farfetched: Turns out Cynthia is in cahoots with Jimmy who is now married to Jill and living in Mexico and they're planning to rob Hungarian mobster Lazlo Gogolak (Kevin Pollak) who's just been released from prison. But Lazlo has an agenda of his own. He wants to kill Jimmy for the murder of his son rival hitman Yanni Gogolak a couple of years ago. When Lazlo kidnaps Cynthia to get to Jimmy (he figures Oz will spill the beans on his whereabouts) poor Oz runs off to Mexico and pleads for Jimmy's help. What Oz and Jill don't realize however is that they are part of a much bigger revenge plot against Lazlo perpetrated by their own spouses Jimmy and Cynthia.
The only thing that makes The Whole Ten Yards engaging is the returning cast who have a playful and endearing on-screen chemistry. Willis and Perry are at the forefront reprising their roles as Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudesky and Nicholas "Oz" Oseransky respectively. The actors craft their characters well and uniquely and the conflicting personalities they create--Willis' cool and collected Jimmy and Perry's nervous and scatterbrained Oz--make watching their interactions entertaining. When the two discover that the hostage in the trunk of their car has died for example Willis stands there unflinchingly while Perry yelps "It looks like he got shot in the foot! Who dies from being shot in the foot?" Peet blends in with her own brand of humor; her klutzy character Jill is hilarious without trying to be which is the key to her performance. Jill's hung up on the fact that although she's a professional marksman she's never had a real kill--she's so accident-prone that her targets always die by default. Also returning for the sequel is Pollak who played Yanni in the first film. Here he returns as Yanni's father Lazlo aged with the help of prosthetics and makeup. It's a great idea and the result is pretty funny although the character is cartoonish.
Director Howard Deutch makes a valiant effort with this sequel to the 2000 hit; there's continuity in the characters although their lives have progressed since the events of the last film. The problem with The Whole Ten Yards is its story penned by Mitchell Kapner and George Gallo. While The Whole Nine Yards had an elaborate storyline it was easy enough to follow--everyone was basically trying to kill one another. Here the plot's equally convoluted but rather than interesting twists and turns we get inconsistencies and dead ends. Take Jimmy's new Suzy Homemaker role for instance. As the film opens Willis is traipsing around his Mexican villa in bunny slippers wearing a 'do-rag on his head fussing over dinner and the fact that the potatoes are supposed to be "floating around the lobster not just stuck there." We find out it's all an act but the reasons are never disclosed. By the time the film ends audiences will be asking themselves what it was all for. Perhaps the filmmakers thought the sight of Willis as a dowdy housewife would make moviegoers laugh so hard they'd forget to ask why.