In any movie that includes a neighbor, they’re almost always there to either enhance or incite our protagonist. If they’re a good neighbor, they’ll wave hello when we see them mowing their lawn, stop by to have a friendly chat, delivery some freshly made pie, or even save a life if the situation calls for it. If they’re a bad neighbor, they’re intruding on our property line, throwing dirty looks in our general direction every time we see them, or even coming to get us in the middle of the night. They’re there to enhance the feeling of comfort or concern that comes with living in a particular house or neighborhood. They want to make sure we feel taken care of...or they want to “take care of us” in another way.
There are plenty of Hollywood neighbors that spring to mind when we think of these tropes but let’s take a moment to call out the very best and very worst that our favorite movie characters have had to deal with. (We should point out there are MAJOR SPOILERS ahead…)
The Best Neighbors in Hollywood History
Old Man Marley — “Home Alone”
Is there a more classic version of the “neighbor who seems bad but is actually good?” At first, Kevin McAlister is terrified by the shovel-wielding man who lives next door to his suburban Illinois home. By the end of the movie, however, Kevin learns that his grisly neighbor is actually a kind man hoping to reconnect with his own kids. Because of their newfound friendship, Marley ends up helping Kevin survive the night by using his shovel skills for good. We could all use an Old Man Marley in the neighborhood.
The Goonies — “The Goonies”
The Goon Docks neighborhood is about to be turned into a country club but Mikey, Brandon, Data, Mouth, and Chunk try to save their homes by following an old Spanish map that leads them to the long-lost fortune of One-Eyed Willy. Along the way, the Goonies survive booby traps, escape the Fratellis, find the treasure, and save the day. Go build your country club elsewhere, jerks.
Leon — “The Professional”
Léon Montana is a professional hitman who keeps to himself in his Little Italy apartment complex, focused on nurturing his houseplant and watching old films. The kind of quiet neighbor we’d all like (except for the murder-for-hire part). Then, dirty cops kill a neighboring family and he takes in Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, and starts to train her to become an assassin like him. It’s not ideal, but, hey, it’s the thought that counts.
East Village Residents — “Batteries Not Included”
When a developer sicks a bunch of thugs on the property managers of an East Village apartment building, the residents have to come together to fight back. And that’s when a group of small living spaceships show up to fix the damage and help them defend their home. The ships are super cute but not as cute as Frank and Faye Riley, the building managers (Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy).
The Worst Neighbors in Hollywood History
The NWA — “Hot Fuzz”
Police officer Nicholas Angel moves to the tiny village of Sandford, which wins the Village of the Year award every year and is watched over by a charming group of neighbors known as the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance. Turns out, however, the NWA’s idea of keeping Sandford charming is by killing off anyone who might “sully” the good name of the village, from rowdy teenagers to bad community theater actors.
The Klopeks — “The Burbs”
Ray Peterson (Tom Hank) thinks there’s something off about his mysterious, new next-door neighbors, the Klopeks. There are strange noises coming from the basement, and they all seem kinda creepy. As other neighbors start disappearing and the oddities accrue, Ray persists despite being told he’s paranoid. Eventually, he’s proven right as they admit to murdering the previous owners of the house before trying to kill Ray too. Not cool, Klopeks.
Lars Thorwald — “Rear Window”
Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller features Jimmy Stewart as a wheelchair-bound photographer enjoying the scenes that play out in his neighbors’ Greenwich Village apartments. That is, until he suspects that one neighbor, Lars Thorwald, has killed his wife. If that wasn’t bad enough, Thorwald also kills a neighbor’s dog. Basically, Lars is a worst-case scenario neighbor. Thankfully, the cops get to him before he does more damage.
The Castevets — “Rosemary’s Baby”
Pregnancy has a way of bringing neighbors together as everyone pitches in to help out. In theory, that’s good news for Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse. However, when your neighbors are devil-worshiping cult members welcoming your child—who you had no idea was the spawn of Satan—into the world, it makes things a bit more problematic. The elderly Castevet couple next door seem like the perfect neighbors until it’s revealed they were the ringleaders the whole time. If they offer you some chocolate mousse, politely say no.