It’s still a rare occasion when Seth Rogen plays anything other than a variation on the pot-smoking man-child archetype (i.e. “himself” in this year’s This Is the End), but he’ll be serving as the straight-man in the otherwise raunchy off-the-wall yuckfest Neighbors from director Nicholas Stoller (Get Him to the Greek).
Neighbors follows Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne), a young couple “suffering from arrested development” who settle down with their newborn baby in a comfy house located in what appears to be an ideal place to raise a child. There’s always a catch, though, and here it’s Delta Psi Beta: the new fraternity-next-door run by the party happy stud-muffin Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) and his merry band of college male rabble-rousers.
Stoller started out as more of a pure irreverent comedy screenwriter, back when he worked on the Jimy Carrey vehicles Fun with Dick and Jane and Yes Man and scripted Gulliver’s Travels starring Jack Black. However, Stoller’s directorial efforts have tended to feature a more balanced ratio of lewd humor to poignance, while tackling subjects like how people recover and mature from heartbreak (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and the obstacles inherent to having a modern relationship (The Five-Year Engagement).
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The Neighbors red band trailer, as you might expect, skips right over the Radners’ tribulations as a couple, in favor of crude jokes and gags involving babies snacking on used condoms, pranks involving air bags and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Kick-Ass 2) getting his freak on. While there’s little reason to doubt that Stoller will give the R-Rated proceedings some heart and brains (based on his track record), the screenplay by first-time feature writers Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien seems geared more towards earning laughs, above all.
Truth be told, that wouldn’t necessarily be an unwelcome quality either, seeing how the suggestion inherent to Neighbors – the current generation of 30-year-olds are predisposed to not acting their age – is more than a little played out in cinema right now. Sure, Stoller has offered some clever variations on the idea before (see: The Muppets, which he co-wrote), but it’s become harder nowadays to muster much enthusiasm for a comedy where the phrase “arrested development” appears in the description.
Rounding out the supporting cast for Neighbors are names like Dave Franco (Now You See Me), Lisa Kudrow (Web Therapy) and Jake Johnson (Drinking Buddies).
Neighbors opens in U.S. theaters on May 9th, 2014.