Neighbors *** out of****
Neighbors, the latest film starring Seth Rogen, is a screwball comedy in every sense of the word. It’s the type of film that should be watched after happy hour margaritas and/or beers with your girlfriends and/or buddies. Definitely not with your kids. You’ll want to keep them home for this one. The movie carries an R-rating that should definitely be observed. But if something like Bridesmaids is your cup of tea, be prepared to love it. Think Revenge of the Nerds meets The Burbs, but with the authenticity we’ve come to expect from Rogen (and a lot of shirtlessness from Zac Efron).
Mac and Kelly Radner (played by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) are a married couple with an adorable newborn daughter, Stella. They’re both at an interesting point in their lives…still relatively young but with the responsibility of being parents. While their peers are out getting plastered, the Radners stay at home and fall asleep with their daughter. But everything changes when local fraternity Delta Psi Beta moves in next door.
Mac and Kelly worry the frat will be noisy and keep little Stella up. They figure the best approach is to greet their new neighbors with the gift of marijuana and a request to simply “keep it down!” Insert protagonists Teddy (Zac Efron), Pete (Dave Franco) and a slew of frat boys. Everything goes as planned and everyone seems to get along. Teddy and Pete even invite the “old” couple to one of their ragers where they bond over booze and ’shrooms. As the party draws to a close, Teddy encourages the Radners to come to him – not the police – if there’s ever a noise issue.
Fast forward less than 24 hours later and Delta Psi is at it again with loud partying – only this time Mac and Kelly are more interested in sleep than hallucinogenics and spirits. Mac tries to call Teddy several times to no avail. Per Kelly’s suggestion, Mac anonymously phones the police and files a noise complaint. The cop comes, fingers Mac and Kelly as the complainers and all hell breaks loose between the two houses. Over the next few weeks it becomes an on-and-off game of reciprocity where Delta Psi pranks the Radners and the Radners strike back.
Neighbors quickly turns into a cat-and-mouse game of who can one up the other. Antics include airbags in office chairs, exercise balls to the face, flooding basements, relationship sabotage, amateur espionage and a riotous macho fight with adult toys.
Amongst all the crudeness there also happens to be some tender moments that touch on the idea of brotherhood, growing up, family, and consequences. Neighbors strikes a great balance of about 95% humor and 5% sweetness, which is all it really needs to keep audiences engaged.
The Good: Neighbors has a strong cast including the supporting actors. Folks like Hannibal Buress as the police officer, Lisa Kudrow as the college dean, as well as Ike Barinholtz and Carla Gallo as friends of the Radners, all add their own blend of funny.
The real surprise here is the performance of Rose Byrne. While she has been in some comedies, including the previously mentioned Bridesmaids, audiences have never really seen her be out and out hilarious. In Neighbors she plays goofy, sweet and witty all wrapped into one.
Another great thing about the film is that it doesn’t try too hard. The filmmakers are aware that this isn’t a cerebral comedy with subtle jokes that take an hour to get. They pull no punches and have no problem being crude, slapstick and simple in their approach.
And for those who may be interested, Zac Efron is often shirtless, so you’ve got that to look forward to.
The Bad: Neighbors may be too lowbrow for some. Its main focus is on raunchy humor, with a large supply of male nudity. On the plus side, that’s a pretty big feat in the world of college comedies.
Some folks will definitely find the film stupid, unrealistic and predictable. Plus, the marketing folks for Neighbors let a few too many of the truly funny gags slip into the trailers, ruining some crucially funny moments for those who had seen the trailers.
Neighbors may not go down in history as one of the greatest college comedies of all time but it certainly holds its own and delivers on the laughs.
Starring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Dave Franco. Directed by Nicholas Stoller.
Running Time: 96 minutes
Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout.