Neighbors (2014) – Review

4 Stars

As I watched Seth Rogen onscreen in the endlessly amusing new comedy Neighbors, I realized that he is my generation’s everyman comedian. He looks like a guy anyone of us could know and he acts like a over-grown frat boy, which is apt considering his latest film pits him against the ever parting fraternity brothers of Delta Si, lead by their charismatic president Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron).

Mac Radner (Seth Rogen) and his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) are new parents, but they struggle with the idea of being ‘old’. Things are complicated when they are faced with the ongoing shenanigans from their new neighbors. Torn between adult responsibilities and immature impulses, the Radners alternate between friend and foe with Teddy and his right hand man Pete (a never better Dave Franco).The waring on the block is outlandish to be sure, but it is also extremely clever and down-right funny in most cases.

Once again director Nicholas Stoller demonstrates a masterful had at controlling tone, tempo, and character development. As in his rom-com classic Forgetting Sara Marshall, Stoller presents us with an array of potentially un-desirable people on the surface, but each has their moment to shine as a real character and Neighbors is surprisingly strong for it. Thats not to say there isn’t wall-to-wall low brow poop gags or an array of pop culture references but there is also a brain and heart mixed in with the sight gags and penis jokes.

On seeing Teddy shirtless Mac comments, “Your body is designed like an arrow to your dick”. It is a throw-away one-liner but delivered so precisely that it comes across as ad-libbed or ‘in the moment’. In fact the visual vibrancy and constant humor add to the good-time vibe of the film. Efron is a movie-star plain and simple, Rogen is one of today’s most relatable screen presences, Franco is growing into his own and Rose Byrne shows comedic chops. Neighbors is the funniest movie since Ted, I liked the characters so much I’d welcome a sequel, but I’m also just as interested in seeing what Soller will do next.

Director: Nicholas Stoller
Stars: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron

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