Movie Review: Neighbors

By Stephen Rebello

<p>Seth Rogen & Zac Efron's hilariously filthy new comedy is <i>Animal House</i> for the post-Apatow generation<br></p>

Director: Nicholas Stoller

Rating: R

Studio: Point Grey Pictures

Stars: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron

A mind-in-the-gutter, barf-all-over-the-place, no-holds-barred showdown between happily married 30-something parents and the frat boys next door, Neighbors is the filthiest, stupidest, funniest thing to hit theaters in way too long. It only needed to be a kind of Animal House for the post–Apatow and Bridesmaids generation, but’s it’s even more—and better—than you might expect. Directed in fever pitch mode by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) from a sharp, surprisingly toothy screenplay by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, the flick stars Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as new parents of an absurdly adorable baby (played by twins Elise and Zoey Vargas) who’ve sunk all their money into a beautiful Craftsman-style home in a nice neighborhood. But as they settle into grown-up responsibilities and parenthood, they begin to long for their wilder, freer and more spontaneous days. Enter the fraternity guys who storm into the house right next door to theirs, all noise, drugs, partying, macho posing and raging hormones. At first, our young marrieds try to make nice because they’re determined to be cool, hip neighbors. It doesn’t work, of course, not with hard-partying, not-too-bright Zac Efron and smarter, hipper Dave Franco as the prez and vice prez obsessed with becoming the frat’s most legendary brothers since the 1930s. Soon, the block is rocked by a full-out intergenerational battle royal. Of course, the movie throws logic to the wind—no one else on the block complains to the police?—but, as one-upmanship between the warring neighbors gets funnier, wilder and more extreme, you won’t find yourself caring about logic. If you’re anything like us, you might be won over by how much more complicated, stranger, dirtier but more insightful things get. It’s a better, and better-made, movie than it has any need to be, showing a visual flair and attention to character rare in comedies, and with the cast—Byrne and Efron in particular—delivering terrific, fresh, full-out performances that soar beyond expectations. Performances from Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Andy Samberg, Jake Johnson, Lisa Kudrow and Hannibal Buress only add to the salty fun. Neighbors may seem like just a series of brilliant college comedy set-pieces strung together, but it’s a movie that more than delivers on a predictable premise.


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