Review – Neighbors

Neighbors Poster

Neighbors Poster

What happens when a young couple (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) who are trying to navigate the world of responsibility and maturity with their newborn daughter find out a fraternity is moving in next door to their newly purchased dream house?  Not quite what you would expect, as it turns out.

Zach Efron stars opposite the seasoned raunch comedy maestro Rogen as the leader of Delta Psi and the supporting cast includes Dave Franco, Chrisopher Mintz-Plasse, and Lisa Kudrow.

Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Byrne) Radner have enough complications in their lives as they try to embrace adulthood while still trying to hang onto the fun they remember from their not so distant younger years.  When Teddy (Efron) and Pete (Franco) move their fraternity into the house right next door things reach a boiling point as the Radner’s lives are disrupted by the college party lifestyle in more ways than one.  What at first seems like a needed injection of young fun blood into their seemingly humdrum life quickly turns into a nightmare as the loud noises and inappropriate behavior are not conducive to raising a young daughter.  Soon it’s neighbor against neighbor in a war for control of the street.

I don’t go into a film hoping to hate it, but I have certainly gone into films with that expectation.  After all, this is advertised as being from they guys that were responsible for This is the End, one of my most hated films of last year.  I’m not generally a fan of Seth Rogen’s brand of R rated stoner comedy, and from the trailers, this looked it was just going to be more of the same.  Thankfully I came away pleasantly surprised.  Replacing the reprehensible Danny McBride with the much more likeable Zach Efron as the foil, and swapping the increasingly annoying James Franco for his younger brother, the cast here is infinitely more watchable than that absurd spectacle.

Much as our main couple – and to a degree, the frat duo as well – are on a quest to straddle the line between becoming mature adults and letting loose for a good time, so this film manages to bring a slightly more toned down and refined take on the raunchy R rated comedy genre.  Make no mistake, this is still a film that features a custom dildo sword fight, but just the way that (not overly long) scene is acknowledged as being disgusting by the characters seems to make it a bit better.  Instead of falling victim of employing drawn out gross-out gags for shock value, the film jumps rather lightly from one joke to the next with plenty of laughs from most of them.

Most surprisingly is that the characters all have some real heart and even a bit of three dimensionality to them, making you actually care about what happens to them.  I actually found myself empathizing with the boys of Delta Psi half the time as they revealed some interesting aspects about themselves.  In fact, the audience even “awwed” at Zach Efron at one point.  Efron, by the way, continues to prove himself as an able comedian and actor, and certainly gives the ladies something to cheer for.

This is still mostly a low-brow affair and is probably not striking enough to make it as a comedy classic, but it is consistently funny and even a bit sweet with a few surprises to be had.  Worth a watch for a laugh with your buddies, and could probably work as a date movie too.

Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film

My Rating: Three out of five hats

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Trailer:

Neighbors parties into 3,279 theaters, May 9

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