"Neighbors" stars Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as unhappy neighbors who decide to fight back to regain neighborhood peace. Zac Efron and Dave Franco play frat brothers who are responsible for causing most of the neighborhood drama, but will stop at nothing to keep their frat house. The ensuing neighbor wars results in plenty of comedy and a satisfying ending.
In the opening scenes of "Neighbors," Mac and Kelly are adjusting to becoming parents after the birth of their daughter. Although they love their new roles as parents, Mac and Kelly struggle through the transition. They are more interested in nap time than date nights, and the lack of sleep causes them to have trouble keeping up with their friends. They soon begin to feel as though they are not as cool as before they became parents.
Mac and Kelly’s feelings only intensify when a fraternity moves in next door. They initially try to prove how cool they are to impress the frat brothers, but this strategy ultimately ends up backfiring. After a series of late night parties at the frat house, Mac and Kelly decide to talk to two of the frat brothers, Teddy and Pete. After discussing what each party wants, the neighbors all decide on a set of neighborhood rules. Soon enough though, Mac and Kelly are once again fed up with the constant partying at the frat house. Sleep-deprived and on edge, they decide to fight back to get the fraternity to relocate.
In "Neighbors," Seth Rogen plays a reformed pothead who is capable yet slightly hesitant to take on the role of father. Rogen, having played this role before in "Knocked Up," does an excellent job in his portrayal of Mac and brings his excellent comedic timing to the film. Rose Byrne, who plays Kelly, seems at first to be a strange match for Rogen, but as the film develops, it becomes apparent just how perfect Byrne is for this role.
Dave Franco and Zac Efron play the frat brothers who get the most screen time. Their roles are limited by the fact that their characters are fairly straightforward, but both actors fulfill their respective roles well. Surprisingly, Efron is responsible for a number of laugh-inducing scenes in the film. A number of actors play supporting roles as frat brothers including Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Craig Roberts. Lisa Kudrow even makes a brief appearance to play a university dean.
A plot revolving around a fight between neighbors is not altogether original. However, there are a number of ways "Neighbors" distinguishes itself from similar comedies. The most notable example is the role the female lead plays in the plot. Instead of Mac taking over the bulk of the scheming and pranks, Kelly participates right along with him. Rogen and Byrne also have great on-screen chemistry, so the pairing of the characters feels natural once the movie gets going.
The teaming of the main characters is far better than the alternative. Mac’s friend, Ike Barinholtz, would have been the most obvious choice, but this character does not have half of the appeal of Byrne’s character. Although Ike does complement the plot, he is not consistently a part of the main action. Toward the middle of the film, it is almost as if this character never even existed, since he disappears for quite a while. In addition, there is an incident involving an affair that Ike’s wife has that facilitates many of the sex-related jokes in the film. The lead up and fallout of this event is nearly non-existent, so this subplot seems unnecessary and almost like it was added for the sole purpose of creating jokes.
Aside from this minor underdeveloped subplot, "Neighbors" is flawless, and funny from start to finish. The beginning of the film features hilarious scenes that any parent can appreciate. The middle of the movie is filled with various subplots so the entire film is not dedicated to the back-and-forth between the neighbors. Equal time is dedicated to the members of the frat house and Mac and Kelly.
It is somewhat surprising that the scenes that take place in the frat house revolve around more than just sex, alcohol and occasional drug use. Of course, a lot of screen time does involve those three elements, but there is more to the story. The history of the frat house is explored very briefly and the background of some of the frat brother is exposed.
Likewise, Mac and Kelly’s relationship is explored, but only the very surface of their marriage. There are minor problems in their relationship and some struggles that both characters go through come up. Overall though, this part of the plot is light-hearted and fits in well with the rest of the film. With time dedicated to both sets of neighbors, the film has a lot more substance and a variety of characters to provide lots of laughs.
Nicholas Stoller – who has directed hits such as "Get Him to the Greek," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "The Five-Year Engagement" – delivers again with the hilarious "Neighbors." The film has just enough depth and side plots to offset the somewhat unoriginal plot. With excellent acting and great characters, "Neighbors" is easily one of the year’s best comedies.
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