Directed by Nicholas Stoller
It’s not often that I fall hard for a comedy. It takes a special mix of silly slapstick, relevant cultural references, and clever comebacks to prompt any amount of laughter from my gut. “Neighbors” did it. With fresh and relevant comedy and party scenes that are legend…wait for it…ary, the newest comedy from director Nicholas Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) is a frat flick for the ages.
Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) just created a beautiful new baby, put all of their money into a quaint suburban home, and began living the life they’ve always dreamed of. But they’re getting new neighbors in the form of a wild fraternity, led by Teddy and Pete (Zac Efron and Dave Franco). These young parents try to toe the line between being cool and being authoritative, but they can’t stop the nightly ragers held by the frat…at least, not without taking some extreme measures. But when it’s frat vs. family, it’s a lose/lose situation. The only winners here are the audience members laughing until they can’t breathe.
Stud muffins Efron and Franco are a hysterical tag team. Efron’s history with dramas like “The Paperboy” make his sensational performance even funnier. I may like Dave Franco more than his brother James. Honestly. Watch him imitate Jack Byrnes from “Meet the Parents” and tell me he isn’t a comedy genius. While James goes off to Broadway and niche art films (and crappy action flops like “Homefront”), his brother Dave is creeping up in the world of understated comedy (see “Now You See Me,” too). Seth Rogen does little to improve upon any of the performances I’ve seen him give recently. It’s commonly said that actors like Rogen simply “play himself,” but it’s true…I’ve never seen a reinvention; no progress is made. It’s not bad, though. Classic Seth Rogen. No less, no more. Playing Mac’s wife, who met him when she was a foreign exchange student from Australia, the elegant Rose Byrne digs down and gives a sometimes straight-up raunchy performance. You’re absolutely shocked when you see a breastfeeding session go wrong. You’ll laugh way more because of it. And a slew of cameos completely relevant to today’s college crowd is the catalyst to a ton of riotous laughter.
As a senior member of a fraternity myself, “Neighbors” speaks to me. Not only do the laughs come with more force (because I understand all of the references that were made…I’ve made them myself!), but the inter-fraternity drama comes with more feels. That’s what makes me think “Neighbors” is the new classic fraternity movie. Every so often since “Animal House” in 1978 (“Revenge of the Nerds” in 1984, “Old School” in 2003), a classic fraternity movie raises the bar. “Neighbors” is that movie. You’ll overdose on party scenes, but “Neighbors” knows that even the frattiest frat boy needs more than boobs and pot brownies to enjoy their frat flick. So they give you so many hilarious jokes that you’ll hurt from laughing so hard. And these aren’t the same old jokes. The script (from two first-timers, even!) is wholly original, creative, and full of things you only wish you’d heard in a movie before.
“Neighbors” is easily the funniest (the best, even?) comedy to come out so far in 2014. If you like laughing, you gotta see it. I guess bad neighbors make for good comedy.