Synopsis: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrne lead the cast of Neighbors, a comedy about a young couple suffering from arrested development who are forced to live next to a fraternity house after the birth of their newborn baby.
Release Date: May 9, 2014 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Neighbors is Seth Rogen’s latest R-rated comedy geared at the 20-somethings of this world, but it might also be his most successful. While, at first, the idea of freshly minted parents forced to live next door to a fraternity seems like a recipe for puerile hijinks – and the film does indulge those urges at times – Neighbors actually has some poignant things to say about oncoming adulthood and parenthood. To put it more bluntly, Neighbors is both a prototypical Seth Rogen movie and an indictment of Seth Rogen movies. It’s also extremely funny.
In Neighbors, Rogen and Rose Byrne play Mac and Kelly, the two “adults” of the film, who so desperately want to cling to their pre-baby lifestyles. They’re the type of parents that most people expect to be, caring for their child every waking moment while resenting the obligations all the way through. That’s not an indictment of Rogen or Byrne’s characters, mind you, but rather it’s proof that these are dynamic characters that more closely represent real adults. They’re not perfect, but they try to make things work.
In stark opposition to making things work is the fraternity of Delta Psi Beta and their leaders Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco). Where Mac and Kelly are constantly thinking about the future, the brothers of Delta Psi are pre-occupied with the immortality that may come from living in the now. Specifically Teddy, whose sole hope of a future rests with throwing the biggest party in the frat’s history.
As you might imagine, the peaceful tranquility required for raising a newborn and the incessant chaos that fuels a frat end up butting against each other, which leads to a neighborly war of sorts between Mac and Kelly and the boys of Delta Psi. But while that premise alone might seem cliche or tired, Neighbors works mostly on the strength of its comedy, its tone, and its brevity.
From a comedic standpoint, Neighbors is easily one of the funniest movies to release in some time. Rogen is, as usual, excellent as the bumbling goof, but it’s the work of his co-stars that makes Neighbors stand out. Rose Byrne and Zac Efron are particularly exceptional, giving their all to roles that might be a little outside their comfort zones. And even the smaller role players in the film, like Jerrod Carmichael, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Ike Barinholtz help give Neighbors a solid comedic base.
Even more than that, though, what’s impressive about Neighbors is the way it uses comedy to make some poignant comments about growing up and taking on responsibility. It’s never forced or heavy-handed, to the point you’d hardly even recognize the film wasn’t just a 90-minute laugh riot, but it’s in there. In a way, the film actually uses its premise to comment on Seth Rogen’s career while also casting him as a surrogate for many of the 30-year-olds out there. Rogen is watching as a new breed of young comedians/adults are breaking onto the scene, and he’s trying to assimilate into their ranks, but he’s well aware times have changed. He’s still plenty funny, but his humor comes from a different place now.
Altogether, Neighbors‘ brisk runtime, its endlessly funny script and actors, and the way the film never feels pointless or totally juvenile helps it rise above, even in the comedy ranks. With Seth Rogen at the helm, you can expect that the film will deliver when it comes to humor, but director Nicholas Stoller steers Neighbors away from being the type of R-rated comedy that consistently bangs a single note home. Instead, this is a more sophisticated comedy of Rogen’s career, even with all the penis jokes.
Don’t let talk of more serious themes discourage you; while Neighbors does have some interesting things to say, its greatest magic trick is masking them behind a severely funny movie. The film earns its R-rating with some over-the-top sequences and plenty of foul language, but it doesn’t sink to the lowest common denominator, which is refreshing.
Here, the jokes hit harder because they make light of a wide variety of life experiences, not just the excess of college. In fact, a lot of Neighbors‘ humor touches on the trials and tribulations of adulthood and parenthood in a way never seen in a comedy before. It’s raw, honest, and incredibly hilarious. Then, on the flip side, the film delivers on its frat boy premise with Efron and Franco’s crew serving as the immature “Seth Rogens” of the movie. The obsession with male genitalia, doing drugs, and the inane pop culture discussions – they are all there; only now a younger generation is taking over. At the end of the day, good comedy comes from balance and Neighbors has it in spades.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Nicholas Stoller
- Screenwriter(s): Andrew J. CohenBrendan O’Brien
- Cast: Seth Rogen (Mac Radner)Rose Byrne (Kelly Radner)Zac Efron (Teddy Sanders) Dave Franco (Pete)
- Editor(s): Zene Baker
- Cinematographer: Brandon Trost
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Michael Andrews
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA