Neighbors: Comedy Remains A Laugh Riot

Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen in Neighbors. Courtesy of Universal.

Neighbors, which pits a married couple against a frat house, remains a laugh riot some seven years following its SXSW premiere in 2014.

Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) are in the early stages of adjusting to parenthood. They have an infant daughter, Stella, so they can’t party with Jimmy Blevins (Ike Barinholtz) and his ex-wife, Paula (Carla Gallo), like they used to. Oh, the good old days! Mac and Kelly soon get a new set of neighbors. Unfortunately for the married parents of one, their new neighbors aren’t the quiet type. The fraternity, Delta Psi Beta, led by Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) and Pete Regazolli (Dave Franco), takes it up well more than a notch after Mac and Kelly call the cops. Teddy and Pete have massive plans for their frat and this includes a huge rager at the end of the year.

Rose Byrne is one of my favorite parts about this film. We’ve seen what see can do with Bridesmaids and Get Him to the Greek. Neighbors allows the actress to truly shine as a comedy performer. In reading over the film’s history, we were almost robbed of this performance. Previous drafts barely featured Kelly and that would have been a shame. In increasing Kelly’s involvement, they actually make this a stronger comedy.

Another positive about the film is that Zac Efron is able to break out of the Disney shell. In 2014, he wasn’t too far removed from High School Musical. However, he shows a range that he certainly couldn’t get away with during his Disney days.

While Judd Apatow doesn’t produce the film, a lot of his disciples are involved behind the camera. Behind the camera, Nicholas Stoller is no stranger to Seth Rogen having written for Undeclared back in the day. Meanwhile, screenwriters Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien were involved with The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Indeed, all roads lead back to Judd Apatow.

In watching the film with the alternate opening on Saturday night in hopes of snapping a depression, one thing I appreciate about this film is the run time. It’s barely over an hour and a half. I’m sorry but comedies really should not run longer than 105 minutes. Yes, you can pack in more jokes during a 2 hour film but at the same time, two hours can be a lot. For me, comedies running around ninety minutes are perfect. Regardless, this film earns its R-rating! I mean, how often do you watch a film where two grown men are hitting each other with dildos? The humor can certainly be on the immature side but the laughs don’t end!

Given the frat perspective, it’s very easy to refer to Neighbors as the Animal House for a new generation. But at the same time, I find this line of thinking would be unfair to both films. They are completely different if you know what I mean. Neighbors is allowed to get away with more things than filmmakers could think of during the late 1970s.

The raunchy gags might not stop but Neighbors is a laugh riot.

DIRECTOR:  Nicholas Stoller
SCREENWRITERS:  Andrew Jay Cohen & Brendan O’Brien
CAST:  Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Dave Franco, Ike Barinholtz, Carla Gallo, Craig Roberts, Jerrod Carmichael, Lisa Kudrow

Universal Pictures released Neighbors in theaters on May 9, 2014.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.