Director: Nicholas Stoller
Cast: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Dave Franco, Ike Barinholtz
Release Date: May 9th, 2014
Their “baby’s first rave” is on the mind of new parents Mark and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) early on in the new comedy Neighbors. The formerly hard-partying couple wants to go out and live a carefree lifestyle but are responsible enough to know that they can’t simply leave their baby at home so they decide to take their baby with them. As overprotective parents though, healing they opt to pack all of the baby’s toys and gadgets with them and end up falling asleep before they open up their front door.
Despite their initial hesitation, the couple sees a partial escape when a fraternity moves in next door. Sure, they would’ve preferred a gay couple that looked at the place but the fraternity could be a solid escape for them if the students living there recognize how cool they still are. After its doors open, the couple visit their neighbor’s house and spend a night partying with them (after of course telling them to keep the noise down at future parties). When another frat party goes too late shortly thereafter though, the couple complains to the police and a battle is started between the frat house and the young family.
The whole comedy pits the Radners against frat brothers Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco), the leaders of the fraternity. Teddy is the fraternity’s president while Pete serves as his right-hand man. What the comedy serves up from the police complaint until its end is a war between the two duos. Much of the comedy ensues from that often-hilarious feud and from Teddy’s naïve love for his fraternity— he believes that his frat is personally responsible for the invention of beer pong, toga parties etc.
The antics escalate quickly and part of the fun is seeing which side will cross the line first (both, of course, eventually do to varying degrees of success). It would be hard to appreciate the feature knowing all of the schemes involved– the commercials already ruin a few gags– but many of them are surprisingly smart with one of the best ones showing the most devious side of Kelly’s personality. The “bro-off” conversation that ensues after that event between the frat brothers is not to be missed.
While many of the jokes work tremendously, there are a few low points where an unfunny joke is carried on too long or a silly scenario undermines the comic momentum. Scenes involving Pete’s “secret” talent could have been easily excised and a scene about the creation of sexual toys for profit doesn’t work as well as it could have.
Still, it’s hard to fault writers Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien for missing a few opportunities along the ride. The comedy speeds by at a quick 96 minutes and the four main actors do solid jobs with Franco and Byrne in particular showcasing their great underestimated comedic talents. Neighbors can be rude and raunchy but it’s still a funny film, especially for young people who love to party and those who realize how much they miss it.
Review by: John Hanlon