Neighbors is that kind of comedy that, more often than not, we’re complaining about rather than praising: the kitchen sink comedy. You know the kind; it throws everything at the wall and sees what sticks. When they don’t work, they’re annoying. When they do work, as is the case of Neighbors, it’s pretty much non-stop hilarity. The film is a celebration of everything irreverent and taboo about fraternities, but also topically explores what life can hold once you’re past that point in your life.
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne star as Mac and Kelly Radner, newly crowned parents to an infant daughter. One day they notice that the house next door is up for sale and the speculation begins as to who the new owners will be. Turns out the new owner is a local fraternity that proceeds to do what fraternities do: host loud, all-night parties, do drugs, and drink heavily. In an effort to keep the noise down, Mac and Kelly initially try the “nice guy” approach with the fraternity’s president, Teddy (Efron), but that proves fruitless as the partying continues nightly. It soon becomes a battle of wills as the feud quickly escalates.
The screenplay, by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, is an absolute rapid fire assault of verbal barbs and slapstick comedy, nearly all of which works. It’s amazing how lazy slapstick comedy has gotten in recent years, but Teddy’s use of some stolen vehicle air bags results in some of the bigger laughs in the film. A gag involving possibly alcohol-laced breast milk wears out its welcome and is more cringe-worthy than funny, but stands as one of the film’s few missteps. All of the performances are fantastic. Rogen does his signature witty, clueless dude routine and is played off of perfectly by Byrne. She more than holds her own in a male-dominated cast and is easily one of the film’s highlights. Efron is very effective as frat lifer Teddy, whose shirtless-ness really becomes an in-joke in itself.
While not without a few minor missteps, it delivers a consistently vulgar brand of comedy that somehow never feels mean. The slapstick works and Rose Byrne turns in a breakout comedy performance. Neighbors is the funniest film of 2014 to this point.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Length: 96 Minutes
Rating: R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout.
Theatrical Release: May 9, 2014
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller
Written by: Andrew J. Cohen & Brendan O’Brien
Cast: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Dave Franco