Chock full of crude humor, gratuitous shots of shirtless men and out-of-control frat parties, “Neighbors” is the perfect mindless entertainment to cure your post-finals blues. New parents Mac and Kelly, played by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, move into a quiet suburban neighborhood to start their lives as proper adults. But before they have a chance to fully embrace their new lifestyle, they become neighbors to the rowdy Delta Psi Beta fraternity — a mostly unwelcome reminder of the sort of lifestyle they have left behind. Zac Efron plays the part of cocky, airheaded fraternity president Teddy alongside Dave Franco as sidekick vice-president Pete. With a seemingly endless supply of drugs and alcohol and an inflated sense of importance, Teddy and Pete embark on a mission to become fraternity legends.
Not yet ready to shed their youth and become the stern next-door neighbors, Mac and Kelly decide to casually ask the boys to “keep it down.” They are perhaps too eager to accept an invitation to a party that night and agree to hold off on calling the cops when the fraternity’s parties get out of hand. Of course, the couple is forced to break this promise when the noise keeps their baby awake at night, and they subsequently face the wrath of college frat bros with apparently nothing else to do but throw increasingly ridiculous parties and plan elaborate pranks. What ensues is a battle between the frat bros and new parents that makes our town-gown relations look comically trivial in comparison.
Directed by Nicholas Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Get Him to the Greek”) and starring Rogen, it’s no surprise that the film is filled with scenes that really stretch the definition of crude humor but leave viewers rolling in laughter all the same — there’s custom dildo molding gone awry and a particularly cringe-worthy breastfeeding predicament. It’s exactly the kind of humor you know you shouldn’t find funny, but just cannot resist.
But among the dildos and the drugs, there are flashes of reality. While Mac and Kelly struggle with the monotony of married life, Teddy and Pete must face their impending graduation and the hurdles of living in the real world. Nobody is fully equipped to make these transitions, but this helps elevate the somewhat basic body-fluid-based humor to relevance.
Beyond the surprising nuance the film offers, it is also nice to see a woman actively participating in the antics instead of just acting the part of nagging wife. In fact, Kelly aggressively denounces this supposed role of the responsible and uptight parent, pushing just as hard as Mac against growing up and becoming boring. While this movie hardly represents a feminist triumph, it’s definitely a step in the right direction, and Byrne portrays this inner struggle effortlessly.
In fact, the entire cast straddles the line between real emotion and humorous dialogue well. Efron does an excellent job of channeling his inner frat bro and has unexpectedly good comedic chemistry with Rogen. Smaller parts played by Ike Barinholtz and Lisa Kudrow add dimension to an already hilarious cast.
Overall, “Neighbors” will definitely make you laugh and maybe make you think a little. You won’t get a brilliantly original social commentary, but rather the kind of wickedly comical mocking of certain social groups that can only be expected with Seth Rogen in a lead role.