James Canellos ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The director’s fourth feature follows Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radnor (Rose Byrne), a young married couple with a newborn baby who move into an ideal neighborhood and begin to settle down. Their suburban lifestyle is being compromised by the rowdy fraternity lead by the legacy obsessed Teddy (Zac Efron), who makes it his goal to make his mark in the frat’s history books. When the neighbors can’t make an agreement about the amount of noise that the frat’s parties cause, the Radnors make it their goal to rid the neighborhood of the college students.
As the opponents tactics get more elaborate, the comedic showboating intensifies. Rogen takes on his first role a father and while he is still very funny in the part, he is still playing the “Seth Rogen” type of character that he has become known for. Rogen’s very funny, but you constantly hope that’ll he’ll break out of his man child, stoner persona and branch out to different forms of comedy. Byrne on the other hand should be billed as the star of this film because she steals just about every scene that she’s in. She never goes too over the top and kind of sneaks up on the audience as a various comedic force who can hold her own against Rogen who is more universally known.
The film is at its best when the couple are conspiring about how to take down the formidable Efron and his right hand vice president, Pete (Dave Franco). Efron who generally has stayed away from material like this delivers an often funny and slightly sad performance. His character’s path even reflects Efron’s own career, pointing out how the actor only has a limited amount of time in terms of the usual parts he chooses. Efron and Franco add an unexpected layer of depth to the desire to be a part of a fraternity and take it in a direction that has rarely been shown in terms of the brotherhood they proclaim to have.
The film is a lot better written then one would initially expect. The whole concept plays out as a battle of the generations only to help the characters avoid the inevitable task to come of age. Despite the fact that both the Radnors and Teddy are supposed to be vastly different, they all exactly the same and fear what’s next for their lives. Although the film succeeds in not being predictable overall, the subplot between the Radnor’s formerly married friends (Carla Gallo and Ike Barinholtz) becomes obvious. What is unexpected negatively is the character change of Teddy, who becomes like a cartoon villain towards the last third of the film. This sudden transformation tainted the image of what was already a nicely drawn out character.
Neighbors kicks off the summer as a solid and not so basic comedy that has some very funny and outrageous material. It has some cringeworthy gross out scenes that seem to come out of left field, but you applaud these moments when they arrive. Despite these scenes Neighbors remains a harmless and enjoyable film and is only benefited by its surprising ensemble. The film is a celebration of bad behavior that stems from the insecurities we have about aging. When Stroller embraces this the film soars higher then Seth Rogen at a frat boy party, well maybe not that high, but pretty close.
Overall Grade: B+