Plot: A married couple with a newborn has to suffer sleepless nights due to a partying frat house right next door. When both sets of “families” not willing to back down from standing their ground, a war ensues.
What is summer without a Seth Rogen comedy now? I’m all about the superhero films and the other blockbusters tossed my way during the hottest season of the year, but to me, R-rated raunch seems to fit right in with the beers and barbecues all summer long.
Last year’s This is the End delved into apocalypse destroying comedic actors playing themselves and was one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in years. Rogen’s follow up, Neighbors, is ridiculously funny and a beast all its own. It’s also an entry into the fraternity movie genre that seems like the grandchild of National Lampoon’s Animal House. I say that in the most respectable way possible.
The film introduces us to Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne), husband and wife, and current new parents. They have an adorable little baby named Stella (Elisa and Zoey Vargas) whose entry into the world keeps the married couple from having sex wherever or whenever, or allowing them to get a decent night’s sleep. They can’t go out to parties like they did and have to deal with their new responsibilities.
Enter the party animals. A frat house is established right next door, with President Teddy (Zac Efron) and his bro/vice president Pete (Dave Franco) setting the stage for what could be a troublesome time for the parents who just plunked down money for a mortgage not ten feet away. Before long, words are said, trust is broken, and the two houses engage in all out battle for property rights. It all leads up to a hysterical fist fight between a father and a “brother.”
I loved the hell out of Neighbors. The laughs don’t come consistently, but when they do arrive, they hit hard and well. Rogen continues to play the same slob who rolls joints and gets high but you know what, the guy has never NOT been funny and the angle works for him. I am a fan and I don’t mind his typecasting. He’s good at it and he can crack jokes like the best of them, so by all means, continue doing it sir.
Rose Byrne also stands her ground as the wife and mother. She has great comedic timing and stood shoulder to shoulder with the dudes in the movie. Also, to their credit, I could totally buy her marriage to Rogen. I mean look, you have someone who looks like him and then you’ve got this gorgeous Aussie Byrne playing his wife. It can lead to quite a suspension of disbelief. But I could totally get behind it.
Their in movie baby is also quite the actress. The twins Vargas are absolutely a treat to watch and steal some scenes at the end. The costumes the baby is put in will leave you breathless with laughter.
Dave Franco continues to prove his not in his brother’s shadow by not only being hilarious, but also injecting some heart into this film and totally making it work. And that heart I speak of is where Efron comes in. In this movie, the former High School Musical star is asked to be a jerk, a charmer, a ladies’ man, a confused soul, a comedic presence, and a frat boy in a 100 minute run time. It’s quite a balancing act, but the dude nails all of it. We are painted this picture of a guy who is living his glory days now because he doesn’t know what the future holds. It’s a role we’ve seen before done by Ryan Reynolds in another National Lampoon, this time Van Wilder. However, the true essence of Efron’s discomfort is you can understand his fears a lot more (and I did) because he’s painted against a backdrop of what is coming down the road right next door. The mirror image brings the whole aspect into view way better, and each person involved grows because of it. An R rated movie that makes you die laughing is one thing, but throw in some good heart (that is not crammed in there), and it definitely brings it to a whole other level.
I would also say Efron should go the Channing Tatum route and just stick to comedies that play up his talent and looks (Seth Rogen even gets jokes out of his abs in the film) but who knows what career his path will take. Nevertheless, he has surely destroyed his Disney image here and it’s a glorious smashing indeed.
The only real complaint I had about the film is that the war between homes gets a little too long, despite it being a little bit more than an hour and a half. However, when you’re having this much fun watching older fight younger, it’s a small gripe in the end. That being said, Neighbors was such a good time. Raunchy, ridiculous, hilarious, and heartfelt, it also took the time to explore the past and future, what it means to young, and what it means to be old. A well oiled comedy machine that even Bluto himself would admire.