Neighbors starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron

Movie Review: “Neighbors” (2014) Starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron

“Neighbors” is the latest comedy from the white hot producing/writing/directing team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. This time, they step out of the writing and directing roles and serve only as producers, except Rogen who obviously is the lead actor. The film is directed by Nicholas Stoller, best known for “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Get Him to the Greek.” This effort is funnier than the previous two; however it lacks the story structure and emotional moments. That is likely because of Rogen, who clearly improvises many scenes, as he and the protagonist of the story, Zac Efron go back and forth many times trying to one up each other.

The story is that a young couple who is not too many years removed from college, played by Rogen and Rose Byrne (sporting her Aussie accent) live a newly acquired quiet life suburban life with a newborn baby. Their quiet life is disrupted, however, when a fraternity moves in next door. Zac Efron plays the cocky and good looking president of the frat and Dave Franco plays the Vice President. Worried that partying might get out of hand, the couple goes over with their flat billed hats and neon green rimmed sunglasses to introduce themselves and ask that the new occupants try to keep the noise down. When they don’t, a battle between the two ensues with antics escalating quickly and soon becoming childish and ridiculously funny.

The scenes that are improvised may go on a bit too long and are obvious, however they give such gems as using Batman to determine what generation you are from. My Batman is also Michael Keaton, by the way. The cameos that are seen throughout the history of the fraternity are another standout scene of the movie for me, I won’t ruin who is shown, but be sure to keep an eye out for some big names popping up during that montage.

The performances are all really good, Zac Efron is very self aware and knows why he was cast. He plays the role perfectly and convincingly. Seth Rogen is the same Rogen you expect. There is great use of set design, especially in the frat house during parties. Every party has a different theme and a different feel. I didn’t expect to leave this movie thinking that the set design was one of the best parts of the film, but somebody worked really hard on that and it showed.

The real question that everyone is asking is: “Is the movie funny or not?” The answer is yes. I laughed throughout. There is stupid fart humor, there are movie references and there are unique lines that will be quoted after you leave the theater. It isn’t terribly raunchy and any type of sex scene is treated with humor. The best compliment is that all of the funny things are not in the trailer. Do not let a review or someone else try to tell you that. I saw several different versions of the trailer and it covers about 10% of the laughs that I got out of the movie. “Neighbors” crossed the famous six laugh threshold about 20 minutes into the film for me and much earlier for others in the theater that I saw it in. I highly recommend the film if you are into Rogen’s humor, especially the things he has been doing lately like last year’s “This Is the End.”

I would summarize the film as being a mixture of that film’s crassness and the theme of “21 Jump Street.” Can some older people fit in with a younger generation, and what does it look like when they don’t and the two rebel against each other?

Grade: B+

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