Meet the Neighbors, Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen & Rose Byrne). They’re newly-minted parents, but having Baby Stella around doesn’t mean they’re not young and cool, right? They can still be spontaneous (especially with the sexy talk). With Kelly clearly in need of a night out and pal Paula (Carla Gallo) dying to drag the deflated duo out to dance, they make the responsible choice of “Baby’s First Rave!”
And never make it out the front door.
So, being married with children clearly isn’t as entertaining as your favorite classic, raunchy sitcom. And it’s certainly not going to be easy, what with a fraternity moving in next door, especially considering the brothers of Delta Psi invented everything about Greek life, from the toga party and beer pong to the fabled boot and rally. And frat prez Teddy (Zac Efron) and his VP, Pete (Dave Franco), are looking to write their own chapter in the annals of debauched legend.
To avoid conflict, the still-cool couple welcomes the brotherhood next door with a spliff — Holy Reefer Madness, Batman, marijuana in a Seth Rogen flick‽ — to show them they’re not the stodgy old crabs they fear they’re becoming, whilst asking them to be mindful of their volume. Pete and Teddy decide discretion is the better part of valor and diplomacy is the order of the day.
Epic bro-down commence.
Drinks are poured, bonds are formed and streams are crossed. The bros will keep it down and the parents will let them know if they need to be quiet before doing anything drastic.
That’ll last, right? If Teddy ever went to class, he might learn about entropy, the inevitable tendency toward decline and breakdown. So what happens when these neighbors go to war?
A product of relative newcomers in writers Brendan O’Brien and Andrew Cohen and director Nicholas Stoller, Neighbors is part Knocked Up and part Old School, but fails to equal the sum of its parts, including a particularly talented cast. While some sequences of the grabassery border on uproarious, it’s not enough to make up for the film's shortcomings, which owe largely to its predictability. The pace keeps the jokes flowing at a steady clip, but in a completely artless fashion.
Boasting comedy king Rogen means this flick is already going to have a solid opening weekend, and for good reason; whether it’s enough to unseat Spider-man, we’ll see. Efron channels his inner bro to great effect, stereotypical or not. When Dave Franco is third banana, you know you’ve got a talented cast of crackups. Byrne seemed to be the only unknown comedic quantity, and she offers a touch of class and plenty of chuckles to the mix.
So where did Neighbors go wrong? Plenty will argue that it didn’t; the movie is funny and enjoyable. It’s just not great. It’ll no-doubt tickle many a Greek funny bone with its send-up of frat stereotypes, and non-bros will laugh along just as heartily. Whichever descriptor you match, be realistic about who you’re sitting next to in the theaters and don’t get your hopes up about Neighbors.