Don’t join frats! Join a sorority! Who cares if you’re a dude!
Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) are a happily-married couple with a newborn baby, a simple life, simple jobs, and a quiet, carefree neighborhood around them. That all changes once a frat moves in next door, and if you know anything about a fraternity, they can be loud, obnoxious, constantly partying, and filled with all sorts of dirty, disgusting debauchery. Not a perfect environment for anybody to grow up around, let alone a family with a baby constantly around, which is why the two decide to make sure things are all hip and cool with the leader of the fraternity, Teddy (Zac Efron). At first, they think he gets the picture – don’t be too loud, and just be respectful of each other’s properties. But, one day, when Mac and Kelly decide that enough is enough and call the cops on Teddy and the rest of the frat, then Teddy not only feels betrayed, but ready for what turns out to be a rivalry of sorts between the two. A rivalry which, mind you, spews-out from just the comforts of each other’s homes, but even to their work-places and such.
Seems simple, right? Frat vs. family? Well, it is. Except for the fact that it’s so much damn fun to watch.
Sure, it’s a blast to watch and be able to laugh almost non-stop throughout a whole movie such as this, but what’s so neat about Neighbors is how it’s more about the actual plot itself, and all of the joy it can have with just milking it for all its got. For example, the whole idea of this plot that is moving it forward, is the fact that these two groups of people are messing with one another, with harmless, as well as harmful pranks and whatnot.
Usually, in most comedies, that’s an idea that would be thrown away as soon as it got started, in hopes that they could just focus on dick jokes and being raunchy, but not with Neighbors. The raunchy, penis jokes are still around and heard, but they’re not done in a way that it’s the only thing you get. Somehow, you get the whole package: You get the fun and the thrill of the plot; the hilarity of the script; the charm of the performances; and the heart of it all. A heart which, mind you, is actually tucked in underneath all of this debauchery, havoc and craziness, in hopes that it won’t bring down the mood too much.
Which, believe it or not, doesn’t actually happen. In fact, dare I say it, this comedy is actually a whole lot better with the heart and the message it brings across, which is that college life is great and all, but it doesn’t last forever. Eventually, you’ve got to grow-up, figure out what you’re going to do with your life, how you want to live it, why, with whom, and whether or not you want to keep on going after the things you want, or if you’re just going to sleepwalk through the rest of your life. Neighbors, on the outside, may look like the type of comedy that’s totally glamorizing the frat/college lifestyle that’s full of drinking, partying, sexxing, and hanging around, like a bum, but what it really is, is a “dramedy” about how you’ve got to move on from all that and become, well, an adult.
“Eww, boring!”, is the response I bet most of you would be giving me after hearing something like that is found in here, but it’s what makes the movie works and somewhat thoughtful. Cause yeah, being known as “the wildest guy at the party” (or, my favorite, “the guy who slept in the same bed with that donkey”) is great and all, and heck, may even do some wonders for your self-esteem for at least a week or two, but eventually, all of that goes away and you have to continue life without all of the non-stop partying and wild antics. You can still have a good time every now and then, and maybe even take a couple of shots, but you do have to wake up, smell the cauliflower, and realize that it’s time to kick that donkey out of your queen-sized and grow the hell up!
But that’s about where all of my preaching ends. Because, to be honest, I’m even starting to get myself down in the dumps and make me re-think every choice I’ve ever made in my life leading up to this moment in time now.
So, yeah, ANYWAY!
I don’t know if I’ve stated this before, but this movie is funny. I mean like, really funny. It’s a quintessential Apatow-production in which we get plenty of weed jokes, gangsta-rap references, and plenty of sex, or at least, in this movie’s case, sex-talk. However, it’s never boring and is actually really short by getting everything it needs done, within a time-limit of only a little over an-hour-and-a-half. And for people who aren’t big fans of Apatow and the type of comedies he has a hand or two in, all because his time-limits exceed way beyond their limits, this may come as a major surprise. But, I kid you not, the hour-and-the-half breezes by so quick, you’ll wonder where all of the time went and just how much, or how hard, you actually laughed.
For me, it was an awful lot. Then again though, these types of comedies are my forte and it’s what I’ve come to expect by now.
Most importantly though, I’ve come to expect that Seth Rogen, no matter what he’s in, will always be Seth Rogen in some way, shape, form, or idea. Still though, that doesn’t bother me because he’s clearly comfortable in his own skin and always the most likable guy in any room he enters. Here, his performance is only slightly different in the idea that he’s a father and husband now and has a bit more responsibilities on his plate, but that’s sort of funny to watch and played up for a whole bunch of jokes that make a lot of sense, given that Seth Rogen doesn’t really seem like the “father-figure” type.
Rose Byrne plays Rogen’s wife, and is an absolute revelation. I’ve been a bit mean and harsh on Byrne in the past, but that’s only because the roles she has in the drama’s she does, all make her seem dull and uninteresting. However, whenever she does a comedy, she always seems to be the one having the most fun and joy with the material she’s given. Such is the case here with her character, Kelly Radner, the type of fun-loving, hip, and cool, but responsible mommy that we don’t usually see in movies like this, played with such likability or charm. In any other movie, she’d be thrown off to the side for not being any fun whatsoever and just acting as a total party-pooper. But, there Byrne is, not only giving Rogen a run for his money, but everybody else as well, showing everyone that it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman in a rated-R comedy, you can be just about as funny, if not moreso than any guy with a penis.
But, as amazing as Byrne is, the one who steals the show is Zac Efron, showing us that he’s finally reached that peak in his career where it may just be his time to truly shine and get away from his High School Musical past. And I guess his role as the leader of the fraternity, Teddy, is sort of a riff on that general idea people have about Efron’s image – the same image he’s been trying to tarnish for so damn long. While I think he’s gotten past that more than a few times, there’s still duds like That Awkward Moment or The Lucky One, that makes it seem like he’s a hot guy, who knows he’s a hot guy, and therefore, tries to be cool and funny about it. However, he isn’t cool or funny, it just seems like he’s bragging, with a hint of self-awareness. Which, somehow, still isn’t enough to justify his gorgeous-looks, his rockin’ bod, and his knack for choosing what so often seems to be sort of the same role, time and time again.
Anyway, I realize that this is getting me off-track, so what I am trying to say is that Efron is great here because not only is he a little self-aware about his sent-from-heaven physical features, but he’s also using his comedic-timing to perfection. He’s cool, charming, likable, a dick when he wants to be, and a bit of a loser when you start to get to thinking of who he really is and why this frat matters as much to him as it does. He’s actually a character, fully fleshed-out and all, and isn’t just a walking, talking stereotype of one of those jerky, muscle-bound, needs-to-be-loved-by-their-mommies-and-daddies frat dudes; he’s living, breathing, and doing all sorts of other crazy stuff, yet, feels real, as hard as that may be to believe. Dave Franco is great here too as Teddy’s second-in-command/best-friend at the frat, but it’s Zac Efron who really struts his stuff, and then some.
Please let this be the chance Efron gets his time as a superstar. Please!
Consensus: Dirty, grotesque and full of all sorts of debauchery and teenage-humor, Neighbors may seem like a totally brain-dead comedy, but effectively finds ways to be something more, with messages about growing up, moving on, and realizing that as rad as a certain party may be, it’s not always going to last.
8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!