Nicholas Stoller’s latest effort sees Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as Mac and Kelly Radner, a couple with a new baby who has just bought a house in an effort to be more responsible and start their family, however they still want to hold on to what they have left of their life before by doing drugs, going to parties, and christening each room of the new house with love-making sessions. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for them, their new neighbors just happen to be the biggest party animals of all. A frat, led by President Teddy Sanders (Zack Efron) and VP Pete Regazolli (Dave Franco) who is planning on throwing a huge end of the year bash to claim their spot on the fraternity’s wall of fame.
Mac and Kelly, wanting to be seen as cool and hip yet respected make a peace-offering to their new neighbors, letting them know they don’t mind getting a little crazy, but to “keep it down” a bit when it comes to the partying. After sleepless nights, Mac and Kelly call the cops, who then rat them out, and the Frat seeks to take revenge on them, making their life a living hell, resulting in a turf war where the end goal is to remove the frat from the neighborhood.
Each actor gave strong performances all around. It was great to see Rose Byrne in a leading role. With her time in the spotlight this go around she proved that not only is she easy on the eyes, but her acting chops are there too. Her performance showed that she is more than capable of handling a leading role in a blockbuster comedy. Likewise, another actor who in marketing seemed to just be eye-candy casting to get as many women into the theater as possible easily held his own against Seth Rogen in a comedy. His performance as Rogen’s antagonist was very well acted, and it made me excited to see Efron break into other roles that would help him put his “High School Musical” good boy aura behind him. Dave Franco gave a strong performance as well, acting as a foil to both Rogen and Efron’s characters. He continues to differentiate himself from his older brother and gain recognition aside from his legacy. The weakest performance here belongs to Rogen. While still comical, fun, and relatable, his character is very similar to other roles he plays. He may be typecast, but at least he is good at playing his type.
There were plenty of laugh out loud moments in terms of jokes and gags. The physical comedy was tremendous and helped carry the film to a different level. None of the jokes fell flat, however some did feel a little uncomfortable, but when you place a baby into the middle of a raunchy frat comedy slight discomfort is expected. No joke is uncomfortable enough to the point of being distasteful or offensive, and Stoller brings a good balance that makes the jokes work and the characters likable despite their efforts to hold on to their life before kids.
The story however lacks in developing character arcs, while certain characters are there for the sole purpose of gags and jokes, the main characters find themselves in the middle of a half-assed social commentary which by the end of the film is completely sidelined for the sake of laughs.
Ultimately the film was very enjoyable, with plenty of consistent laughs throughout and the chemistry between the characters, Neighbors might just be this summer’s breakout comedy.