Young parents meet college fraternity in the battle of the pranks. “Neighbors,” starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron opened in theaters on Friday and for the most part did not disappoint. Anyone who has seen the trailers can pretty much summarize the first hour of the 96 minute film. That being said, the movie doesn’t take itself seriously, and had me and the rest of the audience cracking up the entire time.
Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are new parents dealing with the boredom of quiet life in suburbia when they get the news that the house next door has been sold to the loudest fraternity on campus. They struggle with the decision between acting cool and being responsible parents when they introduce themselves to the fraternity brothers.
Teddy (Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco) are the president and vice president of Delta Psi. Their characters almost fit the “Frat Bro” stereotype too much. Wanting to avoid trouble with the neighbors, they attempt to play nice at first, but when the need to throw the biggest party of all time kicks in, the manners go out the window and the war begins.
The two groups go back and forth trying to run the other out of the neighborhood.
The four characters all play off each other well, which results in some genuinely funny moments. Rogen, who is a comedy veteran at this point of his career, delivers more of his noted “awkward man” character that we’ve seen before. Efron, a relative newbie to the comedy world, does a good job playing the overly-committed fraternity brother, who takes his role as president too seriously.
Byrne plays the new mom struggling to stay hip pretty well. There are times where her character’s jokes fall flat, but it is hard to tell if that was intentional or not since her character was supposed to be the cliché responsible parent. Franco is excellent in his supporting role. His character pops in and out of the plot just enough for his jokes to not feel forced or oversaturated. Surprisingly, even as the least featured of the four, Franco’s seems to be the character with the most depth throughout the whole film.
“Neighbors” is full of physical comedy, with the frat brothers often just putting Mac in different scenarios where he gets hurt in shocking ways. A close second is the reliance on crude comedy. The script is full of the rated R comedy that you’d expect from a film about a fraternity war.
We don’t get to see anything too deep from the script, with only a few attempts at drama, but without any appreciable character development, it just seems as though it is in the way of the rest of the movie.
The prank war is the main draw of the film, with the script foregoing character development and heart in exchange for shocking and surprising jokes. It keeps the audience laughing, but is exactly what anyone would expect from a Seth Rogen film. If you are looking for a groundbreaking achievement in film, look elsewhere, but if you are a fan of silly and surprise gags, you will have a great time. Grab some friends and enjoy the ride.
ONLY RECOMMENDED IF: You are in the mood for reliable, yet predictable comedy gags.