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New parents Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) move to the suburbs when they welcome an infant daughter into their lives. All goes well with the couple, until the Delta Psi Beta fraternity moves in next door. Mac and Kelly don't want to seem uncool, and they try their best to get along with frat president Teddy (Zac Efron) and the rest of the guys. However, when the couple finally call the cops during a particularly raucous frat party, a full-scale war erupts.

Genre: Comedy
Length: 97 min.
Rating: R

Movie Details

Cast: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Dave Franco, Lisa Kudrow, Ike Barinholtz, Brian Huskey, Halston Sage, Jerrod Carmichael, Craig Roberts, Ali Cobrin, Kira Sternbach, Hannibal Buress, Carla Gallo, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Elise Vargas, Zoey Vargas
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller
Produced by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver
Official Site: http://www.neighbors-movie.com/

Movie Review

By Michael Phillips
Tribune Newspapers Critic
3 stars

One part smart, one part stupid and three parts jokes about body parts, the extremely raunchy "Neighbors" is a strange success story. It's nobody's idea of a well-structured and logically detailed screenplay, even though its premise -- new parents battling frat house neighbors -- springs from a high-concept idea that could've come from scriptwriting software or a research facility. Which brings us to one of the movie's better early jokes: Sizing up the perpetually shirtless kegmeister played by Zac Efron, Seth Rogen wonders if his adversary was "designed in a laboratory."

Efron's multidirectional appeal, his boy-toy-ness, takes on a darker hue in "Neighbors." This is familiar tit-for-tat material, predating even the days when Laurel and Hardy went to war against James Finlayson. Parental newbies Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are besotted with their infant daughter, and getting used to home ownership, sleep deprivation and the frustrations of a curtailed sex life. Then the new neighbors move in: a fraternity known for its "legendary ragers." Efron plays the alpha male fraternity president, Teddy, with the determined glare of a sociopathic boy-man, nervous about life after college.

Directed by Nicholas Stoller, "Neighbors" sets up a series of conflicts and vows of revenge as the suburban couple goes head-to-head with the bong-addled, beer-sloshing pledges next door. Dave "The Other Franco" Franco portrays Teddy's loyal best friend; Christopher Mintz-Plasse is Scoonie, the party boy with something extra. The script by Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O'Brien is extremely spotty, going for one too many gags built on the gag reflex rather than the gag. Used condoms, curious infants, lactating mothers in pain and plaster-cast genitalia lead the list, and it's a looooong list.

But Stoller, whose work I like -- "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "Get Him to the Greek" were both funny and a little bit insightful -- has a knack for delivering commercial comedy with some interesting detours and semi-improvised flourishes. Early on, when Mac and Kelly rehearse the way they plan to tell their neighbors to keep the noise down, a simple exchange builds and expands in ridiculous and clever ways.

Efron has one major disadvantage. He's not a witty performer. When Teddy becomes more and more destructive in his attempts to get Mac and company to back down, the character transforms into a creep, and Efron's strategy is to play the meanness for real. Mistake. There's a touch of "Pineapple Express," another Rogen project, to this film's violent action climax. And yet the good jokes, some dirty, some cleaner, keep sneaking in there.

Whether getting drunk and/or high with their neighbors, or embarking on another stealth mission aided by their divorced pals (Ike Barinholtz and Carla Gallo), Rogen and Byrne prove to be excellent scene partners. The fledgling family unit at the heart of "Neighbors" is sunny insecurity incarnate. Mac and Kelly aren't ready to let go of their adolescent excesses, but they're not sure what it means to have this new person in the house. That's one movie; the other movie is the frat-party bacchanal that never quits. Somehow the struggle and tension between the two movies works. Throughout Stoller's comedy you can't help but think: Wait, where's their kid? Who's watching the kid? Then again, no one in "Neighbors" claims these two sleep-deprived basket cases know what they're doing.

MPAA rating: R (for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout)

Running time: 1:36.

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