Zac Efron's frat president takes on Seth Rogen's new dad in the new R-rated comedy Neighbors! But is the film a hilarious success or is it a disappointment? 411's Jeffrey Harris checks in with his full review!
Directed By: Nicholas Stoller Written By: Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan OíBrien Runtime: 97 minutes MPAA Rating: Rated R
Mac Radner - Seth Rogen Teddy Sanders - Zac Efron Kelly Radner - Rose Byrne Pete - Dave Franco Jimmy - Ike Barinholtz Carol Gladstone - Lisa Kudrow Paula - Carla Gallo Scoonie - Christopher Mintz-Plasse Assjuice - Craig Roberts Garf - Jerrod Carmichael Brooke - Halston Sage Officer Watkins - Hannibal Buress
The new Seth Rogen comedy vehicle Neighbors is hardly spectacular, but itís more along the lines of being a passable, solid middle-of-the-road comedy that you can enjoy as disposable fare for a quick trip to the movies. Itís enjoyable, but not especially hilarious. Itís got a few good laughs and chuckles, but itís not hugely clever. The story itself plays almost like a spiritual sequel of sorts to Rogenís character in Knocked Up. Specifically, the story of Neighbors appears to start for Rogenís Mac Radner as to where the story for his Ben Stone character in Knocked Up ended.
In Neighbors, Rogenís Mac Radner and his wife Kelly (Byrne) are trying to settle in to life as married parents. They donít seem to have the time or energy to do all the young, hip stuff they used to. They are confronted with this head on when a fraternity for a local university moves in next door, headed up by president Teddy (Efron) and Pete (Franco). Kelly and Mac try to make nice with the fraternity, so they wonít cause a lot of disruption in their emerging domestic life. Unfortunately between Mac and Kelly, they see a type of life they almost yearn for and left behind, and for Teddy, a young man desperately trying to grasp on to the glory days of his youth, he sees what inevitably could become his life with Mac and Kelly.
After the frat house doesnít keep their end of the bargain by keeping the noise down, Kelly and Mac file a noise complaint with the police. This upsets Teddy and Pete, especially Teddy. So the two sides start a war of pranks and sophomoric one-upmanship. Not getting much help from the collegeís humorously blunt Dean (Kudrow) or the townís dimwitted police officer (Buress), Mac and Kelly scheme to get frat to get two more strikes so it is effectively dissolved.
Neighbors is amusing and enjoyable to a point. It plays like one part Old School and another part your typical Seth Rogen outing. Rogen and Byrne actually make for good pairing, surprisingly enough. Their friend Jimmy, played by Ike Barinholtz, is actually a great show-stealer for out the movie and has some of the funniest moments in the film. I quite enjoyed his subplot with his ex-wife Paula (Gallo, who you might remember from some memorable gag scenes in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek, as they are both still friends with Kelly and Mac, but are having tension over their split.
Efron and Franco both do well for their roles, especially Efron given his transition out of being a Disney-tween star. I like Franco here. His friendship story line with Efronís character is actually quite-developed and filled, surprisingly enough. Francoís an interesting performer. Heís got a bit of lisp, which he doesnít really try to hide, and I think thatís great because itís not something you often get from a leading character in this type of movie. Christopher Mintz-Plasse has a supporting role as one of the frat, Scoonie, who is also having an affair with Paula. Mintz-Plasseís character is rather one-note, and he has only a handful of lines. It seems even seven years later, Mintz-Plasse is still playing the McLovin archetype or the juvenile frat kid.
Where the movie stumbles though are two rather misplaced emotionally climactic moments that seem to come at awkward times in the story. One is the result of a romantic spat over Pete having a thing for Teddyís girlfriend. Another is between Mac and Kelly that unfolded in a very odd, awkward fashion. The resulting third act of the war between the Radners and the fraternity than becomes way too over-the-top to buy into after that point. Itís a rather clunky sequence that sends the wrong message, wherein both parties should be in the wrong and accept the blameÖbut thatís not the case. At times, some the talky dialogue scenes go on a tad longer than effectively should, and the punchlines lose some of their pizzazz.
In terms of direction, Nicholas Stoller doesn't top his best singular work, which was Forgetting Sarah Marshall. To his credit, it's not as overly-long as his previous movies tended to be. After enduring insanely long running times of comedies such as This is 40 or Anchorman 2, this was thankfully a shorter, more tolerable experience.
The 411: Neighbors is a quick, enjoyable, fun, irreverent comedy. It's not as strong as some of director Nicholas Stoller's previous films, such as Get Him to the Greek or Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but it's more of a fun, quick matinee or night out at the movies. If you enjoy frat humor movies like Old School or Knocked Up, this is probably your speed. Neighbors is a decently fun ride that is good, but falls short of being a great comedy.