Imagine the Farrelly Brothers directed “Animal House”. The outcome would be something very similar to “Neighbors”. Directed by “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” director Nicholas Stoller, the film stars Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as new parents whose life is turned upside down when a fraternity, led by Zac Efron and Dave Franco, moves in next door.
Seth Rogen was placed on Hollywood’s comedy radar when he exploded onto the scene in 2007 with “Knocked Up” and “Superbad”. Since then, he has made films that have been revered as some of the funniest films of the past decade, like “Pineapple Express” and “This Is the End”. It can be argued that he has never made a bad film, and certainly never something as lazy as most Adam Sandler movies. And the fact that “Neighbors” is not one of Rogen’s funniest films, but is still a solid film, says a lot.
In the very first scene of “Neighbors”, you know exactly what kind of movie you’re in store for. The film opens up with Rogen and Byrne awkwardly trying to get intimate in front of their newborn baby (yeah, the movie is set in a world where Seth Rogen can get a girl like Rose Byrne). The film has its share of gross out gags, and fair share of genitalia jokes, but it knows exactly where to end the joke and never overdoes it, like so many wannabe raunchy movies try to do.
The best part of “Neighbors”, a film featuring established comedy stars like Rogen, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Hannibal Buress, is Zac Efron. For some reason, some people don’t like Efron. They say he’s just a pretty boy or a Disney Kid, or are just plain jealous (I mean, just look at the guy). But Efron may have just found his new niche, because he is perfectly cast as Teddy, the leader of the Delta Psi fraternity. Seamlessly blending cool nice guy with jerk, Efron steals every scene he is in, and possibly part of what makes his role so great is seeing the star of “High School Musical” dropping f-bombs and smoking joints.
What holds “Neighbors” back from the levels of Rogen’s other films is the amount of jokes in the film. While there are a lot of moments with clever gags or funny one-liners, there are sometimes five to ten minute segments where you won’t laugh; either a joke falls flat or there just doesn’t even seem to be one attempted. “Ted” had a similar issue; the film is never boring, it just may not be as funny as it thinks or hopes it is.
Editors don’t get enough credit from the normal filmgoer, so I’ll give Zene Baker, the editor of “Neighbors”, major props. The film is very well paced; its 96 minutes and but never feels rushed, and there are a few fun transition shots.
“Neighbors” isn’t the funniest film Seth Rogen has ever made, but it is still very entertaining. Zac Efron may have broken out of his shell and the rest of the supporting cast each lend something special. The film has its share of heart, too. I guess you could say the film is neat, tight and easy to watch; just like Zac Efron’s torso.
Critics Rating: 7/10