PLOT: A couple raising a newborn baby find themselves dealing with growing older and losing their freedoms. Things get far more complicated when a fraternity moves next door bringing partying and debauchery to a whole new level.
Director Nicholas Stollers latest comedy could have easily been a horror film. A happy couple with a brand new baby facing off against a group of antagonistic frat boys might have made for a suspenseful and freaky feature. In fact, there is most assuredly a stroke of viciousness in NEIGHBORS when it comes to the lengths these characters go in an attempt to get even. Thankfully it all ends up to be what may be the best and raunchiest comedy of the year. This revenge laden story carefully walks the fine line between vulgarity and heart, with an uncanny ability to shock and then charm the audience with simply a babys smile. There is certainly a ton to smile about.
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are Mac and Kelly Radner, first time parents coping with the joys and frustrations of a newborn baby. They are a likable yet flawed - couple who deal with their new lives the best they can. When their friends decide to go to a rave, they mistakenly think about packing up the baby and her things and heading to the festivities. However, from sheer exhaustion they dont even make it out the door. Things get far more challenging for the couple when the home next door is bought by a fraternity. After an awkward attempt to make friends with the frat president Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) they make a promise to never call the police if his boys get too loud. Yet during a long night of loud music and no answer from Teddy when they call, they dial 911 starting a wicked rivalry between the two households.
With this storyline it would have been very easy to demonize the rowdy crew of young guys looking to party. Thankfully there is far more fun in having the idiocy balanced between Efrons Sanders and Rogens Radner. Even Rose Byrne who thankfully gives us her lovely natural Australian accent has moments of lunacy and is a perfect comedic fit. As one thing leads to another and the stakes get higher, the absurdity of the situation makes for increasingly funny humor. From a dildo fight to one of the most disturbingly sidesplitting scenes involving breast milk, this goes for the comedic jugular with glee.
As for the two leading men, both Zac Efron and Seth Rogen represent a little piece of all of us. Mac Radnor is a man saying farewell to his youth and Teddy Sanders is facing an uncertain life after college. They are two men on opposite sides of the coin and it works especially well when we see them occasionally bond during the film. We also see a darker side to both as they begin to fight against one another, even if the circumstances are with humorous effect. Efron is at his best here as a young man, driven by rage, with a sole purpose in life to be remembered in frat party history. All his hopes for greatness start to diminish thanks to the troublesome family next door. The two actors make for perfect sparring partners.
Aside from the two leads, the rest of the cast is in perfect form. Rose Byrne is terrific as a young mother dealing with her own fear of growing old and loss of freedom. Dave Franco continues to steal a scene or two as one of Teddys frat brothers who sees more to life then partying. Other standout performances include Craig Roberts as the unfortunately nicknamed Assjuice and the very funny Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project) as Radners best pal. Friends alum Lisa Kudrow also shows up in an inspired moment as the Dean of the college who happens to have a thing for headlines. And let us not forget about the crazy adorable baby Stella. Both Elise Vargas and Zoey Vargas have the sweetest smile which is put to good use at the most perfect moments.
With a script by Andrew Cohen and Brendan OBrien, director Nicholas Stoller has put together a joyfully vulgar comedy with a ton of heart. This consistently funny flick features a ton a great cameos, and a winning leading pair with Rogen and Efron as well as a terrifically game Byrne. And best of all, it is the rare recent R-rated comedy that manages to keep its length under two hours. Without overstaying its welcome, NEIGHBORS is a delightfully dirty frat flick which manages to inject a ton of sweetness perfectly into the mix.
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