Neighbors Review 
Posted by Terry Lewis on 05.09.2014
In a war of the century candidate, new dad Seth Rogen takes on douche frat house president Zac Efron in a battle of attrition in adult comedy, Neighbors. Does it have enough to break up the big summer blockbuster releases? 411's Terry Lewis finds out.
Seth Rogen - Mac Radner Rose Byrne - Kelly Radner Zac Efron - Teddy Sanders Dave Franco - Pete Regazolli Christopher Mintz-Plasse - Scoonie Lisa Kudrow - Carol Gladstone Craig Roberts - Assjuice Ike Barinholtz - Jimmy Faldt Jake Johnson - Billy Jessup Hannibal Buress - Officer Watkins Halston Sage - Brooke Shy Ali Cobrin - Whitney
As we fully have two feet in summer blockbuster season, spare a thought for the attractive looking movies plugging in the weeks inbetween the uber blockbusters. With a decent gimmick they'll get noticed and Neighbors stands out from the pack with a neighborhood war between a genuine A-list comedy actor and a genuine A-list Disney/romance icon ditching his clean image and getting dirty in an adult comedy about growing up.
Mac (Seth Rogen, This Is The End) & Kelly (Rose Byrne, Insidious: Chapter 2) Radner are an early adult couple struggling to stay young and party whilst bringing up their newborn baby girl. Their world is turned upside down when a university fraternity house moves next door with Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron, That Awkward Moment) as it's President. Whilst being on friendly terms at first, the constant partying drives the Radners mad and after breaking Teddy's trust, the two households begin feuding. The feud quickly escalates into an all out war as the Radners do everything they possibly can to get the frat house evicted.
The highlight of Neighbors is seeing Efron ditch his clean Disney and romance film persona for once and tear up the place as Teddy. He is a man reborn with this role, showing off the comedic side to his acting skills. Following in the footsteps of Channing Tatum, who knew Zac Efron would be this good in a comedy film? He's worked hard to get himself into this prime meat physical shape with a tanned body of an adonis which is awesome when compared to Rogen's shirtless average bodyshape. Speaking of Rogen, despite have a good chunk with him exploring the issue of becoming a young-ish parent and still being quite entertaining, his weed smoking schtick is starting to feel a bit old hat. That old hat is still good but after you've worn it out a few times you worry about the next few times where it could collapse or get lost.
Byrne expands on her growing and glowing range of performances with another damn good comedy showing. It's the little things that are thrown in with her singing a lullaby to her baby about how she hates the bitches she sees shopping as she's getting baby into car that really makes it. The real star of the film is the baby as she is so damn cute and they do an incredible job capturing all her appropriate facial expressions. Lisa Kudrow of Friends has a nice little cameo as the University Dean who believes in the value of twisted newspaper headlines. What I don't get is how muthaflippin' McLovin (Kick-Ass 2) is in this with a fairly predominantly background character role yet only gets five lines tops the whole film. Massive waste of a superb comedy actor.
Neighbors (Or Bad Neighbours here in the UK, to ignore comedic confusion with a well-known Australian soap opera of the same name if anything), for a comedy film, actually has a really engaging anchoring theme about people dealing with growing up and the start of young adult life. We're shown how Teddy hasn't bothered studying at all through the film and we see his comeuppance because of his heavy amount of partying, compared to his right hand man Pete (Dave Franco of Now You See Me and James Franco's brother fame) who knuckled down when it mattered. Mac & Kelly are struggling with their want to go partying with their same age, young-ish friends whilst trying to look after and raise the baby at the same time. There are some cute gags related to it with the parents seriously contemplating taking the baby to her first rave before crashing out because of exhaustion & the pair drawing in breath as the baby stirs uncomfortably in sleep in fear of her waking up. In balance, we get Beast Efron shirtless in an injection of fan service also. Whilst it doesn't hit the heights of Christmas' Anchorman 2, I can't knock this film at all for being freaking hilarious.
I am stunned Neighbors gets away with it's 15 certificate in the UK & R rating in the US just because of the sheer amount of adult gags involved. Not that I'm a prude but it is genuinely shocking not to see it as NC-17 and above. I mean we get topless breasts (albeit played for comedy) in a gross scene, a ridiculous amount of drug and weed references and usage & plenty of dildo casting. I guess the film is kept down as there's not really any violence but that burning barbeque to that professors head is downright nasty looking. Heck, we even see the baby dressed up as Walter White from Breaking Bad and munching on 'blue meth' icecubes.
On that note, this film does crude comedy rather well and lays down a big marker in a summer where we're going to see a film about a sex tape leak and 22 Jump Street. There's some great gags about the troubles of being young parents like Mac & Kelly trying to have sex in the same room as the baby but the baby keeps trying to look putting them off and the human milking of alcoholic milk. There's also some dangerous lines with the doctor saying the baby has HIV, pausing and then revealing she doesn't after handling a condom before Kelly goes mental. Again, not that I mind but I'm still surprised all those gags get away with the R rating.
My big bug bear though is how I really don't like how Mac & Kelly come across as the, if you forgive me using a wrestling term, heels or villains of the movie. If it's intentional, great, as they play up to that 'neighbors from hell' tag complaining about next door and sabotaging them with acts of vandalism and the like in order to get the frat house evicted. Don't forget this is on top of them shown to be smoking weed and doing other awkward things - perhaps the title of this movie should have been Bad Parents. I know at the end of the day that Neighbors is just a comedy movie and to some I'm probably over thinking it but I felt genuinely sorry for Teddy and the rest of his fraternity. He's not exactly a bad guy - he's just young and partying, with some douche qualities but he's shown caring for friends and other neighbors. He levels very reasonable ground rules to Mac & Kelly which they then break so they instigate the whole war and they do totally more escalating actions like flooding the frat house basement and spying & recording hazing acts. Like I say if it's intended, great but all the promotional material and trailers say something different.
The 411: I love the performances, I love the gags and I love the themes involved, but there's that nagging doubt over the focus in Neighbors about how the family household shouldn't really be shown as escalating party when you're not sure if it's intentional or not. The fact that you get Zac Efron vs. Seth Rogen going one-on-one gets you through still and it's genuinely hilarious in laying down a big marker for other comedies to compete with in 2014. As an adult humour breather between the big summer blockbusters, it's superb.