Director: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Lisa Kudrow, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress
Rated: R (Pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout)
After they are forced to live next to a fraternity house, a couple with a newborn baby do whatever they can to take them down.
By Matt Greene
Neighbors mashes up three classic comedy genres: fraternity comedy, young family comedy, and the bickering neighbors comedy. Balancing all this could be a difficult task, but director Stoller handles each with aplomb and a ton of great laughs to boot. It’s a fairly realistic look at modern day family life juxtaposed against the freeness of young adulthood, everyone learning how to grow up responsibly but freely. If only the story weren’t so uneven and some of the jokes less juvenile; however, the underlying truths and the over-arching humor win out.
It focuses on a young married couple with a newborn baby who’ve just bought a new house. Not long after settling in, the house next door becomes a frat house, led by Efron and Franco, who long to party hard enough to go down in Greek history. The casting from top to bottom is spot on. Rogen and Byrne actually play a couple that LIKE each other, and have a natural chemistry that produces many of the laughs. Efron, Franco and crew do some of their best work, convincingly balancing goofy with affecting.
Most surprising is the great commentary: the futility of popularity, the strength in being one with your spouse. If only the story and plotting were just a bit tighter. Instead of forcing every joke, allow the story and characters to move along naturally. All of this adds up to a mediocre story filled with great comedic debauchery, which is enough of a reason to recommend it.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
By Cole Schneider
There may not be a more naturally likeable movie star today than Seth Rogen (“Pineapple Express”, “Knocked Up”, “This Is the End”). He can carry a film on charm alone. From a character and story standpoint, both he and his co-star, Zac Efron (of “High School Musical” fame), survive capably on an odd combination of heart and dirty jokes.
In “Neighbors”, the Efron’s character leads a college frat that moves in next door to Rogen’s family. Initially, they’re friendly and they effectively establish a relationship built on a distanced admiration of each other’s position in life. Rogen yearns to escape the responsibility of being a husband and father in favor of his college days and Effron is suppressing a fear of life after the college party scene.
Ultimately, this story of accepting one’s own maturity is brought forth in a manner that is anything but new yet effectively resonant and organic because of the couple dealing with boys-next-door. Both Rogen and his movie wife, Rose Byrne (who is even better than all the boys), are fantastic as comic vehicles with just enough pathos. Their arc toward maturity is neither absently tacked on nor sappy.
Director Nicholas Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) also injects the film with far more style than a typical studio-comedy. The many party scenes more closely resemble an arthouse film with the way he handles the color and editing. The effect becomes a deeper immersion in the actions of the characters. “Neighbors” may be forgettable, but it’s funny throughout and offers more warmth and style than most similar projects.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars