Seth Rogen (Seth Rogen) is living the dream in suburbia, married to the hot mom from Insidious (who now has her totally banging Australian accent). The couple, however, unwilling to grow up, find themselves trying to juggle having a child and wanting to stay young. Potential trouble comes in the form of a fraternity moving in next door to the couple, headed by Teddy (Zach Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco). Teddy’s life goal as President of the fraternity is to fulfill his destiny to throw a massive year-end bash, for which the fraternity is legendary. At first, the couple makes peace with Teddy, who invites them to his parties to get them to his side.
It works, briefly. Rogen and Teddy begin a bromance for the ages, comparing Batman impressions, crossing streams while peeing in the fountain, and planning to purchase walkie-talkies because they’re “practically roommates.” The brotherhood is severed, however, when Rogen finally snaps and calls the police on one of Teddy’s ragers, after which Teddy immediately declares all-out war on the couple. The pranks and sabotage get exceedingly more cruel, while each party comes up with increasingly clever rebuttals and solutions.
One family’s moving out, and neither wishes to go willingly.
This ranks up with Knocked Up and Observe and Report as one of Rogen’s funniest movies. After the mild disappointment of the tonally uneven This is the End, the latest Rogen/Goldberg production scores a slam dunk. It is mostly dick jokes, gross out humor, and pranks, but it works. The back-and-forth escalation of pranks between the rivals is inventive and hilarious, and even if most of it has been seen in the trailers, the timing in the actual film has been cleaned up a bit.
Director Nicholas Stoller is a master at blending different types of comedy, and Neighbors is a certified cocktail of the crass, slapstick, bizarre, and just plain silly, with Stoller’s zany style (he also directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek) bringing a variety of different gags to the table, interspersed with insane, kinetic Enter the Void-inspired party sequences. It’s vaguely reminiscent of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, though not as ludicrously unrestrained and a perfect fit. Again, Stoller’s master of comedic timing is razor sharp, and the editing by Zene Baker (This is the End, Observe and Report) keeps things from getting stale.
One of the film’s greatest assets is how lean it is. Clocking in at under 100 minutes, Neighbors doesn’t burden itself with subplots or filler. And yet, character development is still present, though here it’s as organic as getting a boner whilst looking at a picture of Blake Lively’s crotch. There aren’t really any major character turns or lengthy explanations of why a character is or does things. They just do what they do, and advance naturally as a result. Teddy’s kinder side, as well as a fear of life after college, are revealed in different conversations rather than major plot turns and things move along cleanly as a result. Likewise the parents’ fear of growing old is also built up though conversations, not montages or monologues. The core (and practically sole) plot thread is Rogen vs. Efron, and the movie barely misses a beat on the way to a wildly hilarious final showdown.
The only comedies this year that stand to top Neighbors are 22 Jump Street and possibly Tammy (don’t let me down, Melissa McCarthy!). The effortless improvising, strong chemistry, excellent visual style, and breakneck pacing combine to make Neighbors one of the strongest R-rated comedies to hit theaters in quite a while.
And Efron’s chest… be still, my heart.
Do a Shot: for every vaguely homosexual thing Pete does or says (and an additional shot if done with Teddy).
Take a Drink: every time someone gets hurt.
Take a Drink: for every pun or play on words.
Do a Shot: every time a celebrity is referenced.
Take a Drink: for every celebrity cameo.