Neighbors is the best frat comedy to come along since Animal House. The film, which premiered during the film portion of this year’s SXSW festival, pits former teen heartthrob Zac Efron against seasoned comedian Seth Rogen. An unexpected pairing to say the least, but the two manage to form an undeniably hilarious comedic duo. As with any Seth Rogen-led film, there is the inevitable nudity and pot-related humor, but Rogen’s character has arguably more maturity than any other he has played. Efron, on the other hand, has left his High School Musical days far behind him, proving to have some fairly impressive comedic acting chops in this R-rated fraternity comedy filled with blacklight dance parties, magic mushrooms, bro-mances and general debauchery.
By Lauren Beccue
Rogen and Rose Byrne star as Mac and Kelly Radner, a married couple residing in a quiet, peaceful neighborhood with their newborn daughter. However, their suburban bliss is threatened when a rowdy fraternity moves in next door. Led by President Teddy Sanders (Efron) and Vice President Pete (Dave Franco), Delta Psi is the epitome of every Greek stereotype imaginable. Teddy’s main aspiration in life is to earn a coveted spot on the frat’s Hall of Fame, along with past alumni who are believed to be the original inventors of beer pong and toga parties.
The Radners, attempting to play it cool, casually ask their new neighbors to “keep it down” since they have a baby and even offer the guys a welcoming gift of weed (in true neighborly fashion, of course). Unfortunately, this truce is short-lived. When Mac decides to call the cops on a particularly out-of-control party late one night, he unknowingly ignites an all-out war with the Delta Psi brothers.
The couple soon learns that hell hath no fury like a frat boy scorned. After having their lawn trashed and airbags stolen, the parents decide they have no choice but to fight back. The rest of the film chronicles their insane and often hysterical attempts to win this epic battle of family versus fraternity.
Everyone in the film delivers big laughs, but the real star is Efron, who, with his sculpted abs and perfectly coiffed hair, seems as if he were born to play the charismatic, yet obnoxiously arrogant, Delta Psi fraternity president. His charming, cocky frat boy persona is the perfect foil to Rogen’s Mac: a bumbling, clueless, new father trying to convince himself more than anyone else that he can still get down with his bad self (even planning “baby’s first rave” in order to avoid another night at home). Byrne is no stranger to comedy, either, but she abandons her perfectly polite Bridesmaids character in favor of portraying a foul-mouthed mother on a mission.
Directed by Nicholas Stoller, Neighbors bears some resemblance to his previous films, including Get Him to the Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. There’s not exactly a coherent story arc or any meaningful character development, but, to be honest, it seems highly unlikely that anyone seeing this film will care. Neighbors is meant to be nothing more than a ridiculous and inappropriately entertaining ride — and in that aspect, it succeeds.
Neighbors will be released in theaters Friday, May 9.
Stars: 4 out of 5