‘Neighbors’ Review

Published 2 months ago by , Updated May 14th, 2014 at 9:07 pm,

Neighbors Movie 2014 Seth Rogen Zac Efron Neighbors Review

In Neighbors, new parents Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) have just become the proud owners of a beautiful new house in the suburbs. Attempting to meet the needs of newborn daughter Stella, the Radners have given up their days of rock concerts and late night drinking in favor of a sensible bed time. Still, Mac and Kelly aren’t complete party poopers; they smoke weed and christen every room in their new home with a love-making session, in order to preserve a bit of spontaneity in their relationship.

However, when the house next door is purchased by a fraternity led by Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) and Pete Regazolli (Dave Franco), the Radners quickly discover they’re not nearly as hip (or tolerant) as they might have thought. Several sleepless nights later, the pair call the police in a moment of desperation; unfortunately, the frat brothers find out and, as punishment, unleash a constant barrage of trash and pranks that, over the coming months, make the couple’s life a living hell. Unable to sell their home without losing a fortune, the Radners scheme-up a plan to get the fraternity evicted once and for all - just as the boys of Delta Psi are preparing to earn their place in party-throwing history with an enormous end of the year bash.

Neighbors Movie 2014 Seth Rogen Rose Byrne Neighbors Review

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne in ‘Neighbors’

Directed by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Neighbors is packed with laugh-out-loud moments and sharp gags. Sensitive viewers may find select scenes offensive, but regardless of the film’s frat boy neighbor premise, Stoller rarely lingers on low brow gross outs, instead allowing his talented cast to carry the jokes. Moviegoers looking for a balanced dramedy that is equal parts comedy and impactful drama will find that Neighbors skews heavily in favor of making its audience crack up as opposed to providing relatable insight – but its hard to argue with the end result. While it might not be the deepest or most memorable comedy experience, Neighbors offers a steady stream of solid (and often outrageous) laughs.

The Neighbors setup is rife with comedic potential and Stoller succeeds in making both sides of the dispute (the Radners and the frat boys) entertaining to watch. That said, the film spends a noticeable amount of time touching on character arcs that don’t pay off. At first, the Radners and the Delta Psi guys find common ground – as the married couple tries to hold onto the excitement of their twenties, while the frat boys attempt to avoid thinking about life after college.

Neighbors Movie 2014 Zac Efron Dave Franco Neighbors Review

Zac Efron and Dave Franco in ‘Neighbors’

Throughout the film, Stoller revisits these ideas, but by the end, social commentary is sidelined in favor of comedy beats – with rushed conclusions to the conflict. Most audiences will appreciate the focus on moment to moment gags, unconcerned by any underdeveloped character arcs, but for those who expect heartfelt drama to accompany their comedy selections, Neighbors is merely a funny but somewhat callow combination.

Nevertheless, nearly every character is likable and enjoyable on screen. Rogen delivers another lovable but awkward everyman – a well-meaning guy that’s doing his best to navigate daily life as a father and husband. Fans who have enjoyed similar turns in Knocked Up or Zack and Miri Make a Porno will recognize that Rogen’s brand of comedy sets the tone for Neighbors. As a result, Rogen creates a fun platform for the rest of the cast to flex their improv muscles - especially Rose Byrne (X-Men: First Class). The actress has been groomed in supporting comedy roles (Bridesmaids, The Internship) but Neighbors puts Byrne front and center for some of the film’s biggest and most shocking laughs.

Neighbors Movie 2014 Zac Efron Dave Franco Christopher Mintz Plasse Jerrod Carmichael Neighbors Review

The men of Delta Psi: Teddy, Pete, Scoonie, and Garf

In spite of likable roles in That Awkward Moment and Liberal Arts, among others, some moviegoers still roll their eyes when they hear Zac Efron’s name; however, the young actor continues to prove that he’s more than just a pretty face. Efron’s character, Teddy, is reduced to a somewhat shallow caricature by the conclusion of Neighbors; yet, the actor ensures his malevolent frat boy is downright endearing from beginning to end – injecting a vulnerability and desperation that is often lost amidst all of his hijinks.

The same goes for Dave Franco’s Pete Regazolli who, despite his dedication to Teddy and Delta Psi, is the first to question whether the frat has gone too far. Pete isn’t much of a stretch for the young comedian, who continues to differentiate himself from older brother, James, but Franco supplies a fun foil to both Efron and Rogen in the role. The cast is rounded out with appearances from comedy vets (Carla Gallo), frequent Rogen collaborators (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), as well as a scene-stealing turn from newcomer Jerrod Carmichael (Lucas Bros Moving Co) – allowing nearly everyone involved a scene or two in the spotlight.

Neighbors Movie Seth Rogen Zac Efron Neighbors Review

Neighbors Mac (Seth Rogen) and Teddy (Zac Efron)

Ultimately, Neighbors is a smart blend of prior Stoller films – a likable mix of over-the-top comedy beats grounded with relatable characters and life scenarios. The film is more Get Him to the Greek than The Five Year Engagement, meaning that some moviegoers may leave feeling slightly underwhelmed by Stoller’s choice to highlight laughs over substance this round. However, with an incredible amount of hilarious moments to enjoy, Neighbors should have no problem entertaining most viewers. A clever premise, keen comedic talent, and a steady stream of funny antics, guarantee most moviegoers will find plenty to like (and laugh at) during this outrageous frat vs. burbs showdown.

If you’re still on the fence about Neighbors, check out the red-band trailer below:

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Neighbors runs 96 minutes and is Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout. Now playing in theaters.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check out our Neighbors episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

TAGS: Neighbors

23 Comments

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  1. Sup Mr. Kendrick,

    great review.

    I watched this earlier this week online. I thought it was enjoyable. That said, I believe the 22 Jump Street will be better or atleast have more laugh out loud (could have abbreviated that) moments.

    ***minor spoiler***

    I personally didn’t appreciate the n-word jokes…eventhough they addressed it / made fun of it.

    • I agree, no need for the nword.

    • eh, didn’t bother me…it was just used to show how big of a dork the guy was….knowing the lyrics to an Outkast song is pretty dorky.

      • What two songs were referenced? I cant remember the lyrics.

  2. It was ok but a bit of a dud.

    I told some friends the funny joke from the movie and even they they did not laugh so I’m guessing they will like it less.

    Rose Byrne is always watchable. Saved this one for me.

    • Yeah, I guess it shows the difference between critics and audiences on both sides of the pond because here, the film opened to pretty bad reviews and listed outside the Top Ten (although the studio claims that they don’t count its box office just yet and will only do so from today, meaning they’re claiming 9 days of previews to artificially inflate takings and box office success after 3 weeks of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 being the number 1 film in the UK).

  3. “Stoller rarely lingers on low brow gross outs, instead allowing his talented cast to carry the jokes. ”

    I thought the entire film was a series of low brow gross outs.

    • But would you say he “lingers” on them? ;) I can only think of one that really goes on too long.

  4. Don’t see comedies often but looking forward to catching this with the wife this weekend.

  5. I thought it was pretty funny. Yes, childish humor and some low brow stuff for sure, but I chuckled a bit and even laughed a bunch. Enjoyable movie.

  6. I saw this with the wife last night and thought it was okay at best. I think Rose Byrne saved this movie for me. She seemed funnier than Seth Rogen. The humor was alright and seemed at times like it was forced. This movie reminds me of The Hangover 2 where it has some funny parts but people could tell that the humor is forced. Then add in some humor just was just plain pointless and you get this movie. My wife is a huge Rogen fan and even she said that it’s sad that Rogen has become another Adam Sandler. I’d give this movie a 2.5/5 at best

  7. Who knew Efron could do a funny comedy?
    It didn’t sucked but it didn’t made me LOL a lot. I gave it a 3 star.

  8. I thought this movie was awful. The characters were annoying and empty and the story was absolutely flat. What was the arc of this story supposed to be? I mean I genuinely thought the characters became less and less recognizable as actual humans as the movie went along. Isn’t it supposed to be the opposite? Horrible character development. I get that it’s a comedy, but still. I wanted to like this movie. I really did. But I hated it. I think it’s biggest sin though was that it wasn’t even funny. I don’t think I laughed once. So disappointed in this movie.

  9. Eh i was excited for this movie and it wasn’t bad but if im honest i didn’t laugh once throughout neither did anyone else in the cinema which was kinda a let down, was still a good movie though i might pick it up on dvd.

  10. I thought it was hilarious and the whole cast was great! But can we take a moment to mention the breakout star…possibly the cutest baby ever known to man!!

    • Reading minds are we ?

  11. I thought it was freakin hilarious. Such a good time at the movies. 8/10

  12. Totally lacked substance. Humour was few and far between. They threw the F bomb around like it was common everyday language. Save your money if your 25 and over. Not worth the money or time. #real talk

  13. It had me and my fiance laughing a good bit so mission accomplished..if a comedy makes me laugh a good bit then it’s a success I’m not worried about the plot making sense or really understanding a character’s motivations. 4/5. I liked it more than Knocked up, but it wasn’t as good as Pineapple Express or This is the End.

  14. Maybe it’s me or I’m outdated in my beliefs of the use of the n-word, but although i laughed at the movie close to the end when that actor dropped it 2-3 times was uncalled for. Given the history and the stereotype or negativity belonging to the word, why use it as a joke. To blacks, sure it may be a term of endearment or exercised by a people of with a minimal lexicon, but it has no room in a comedy. I know many blacks that don’t even use the word the audacity of Hollywood to lightly throw that in there as if it’s a word that should be used loosely. If this were a movie about slavery or segregation, sure use it because it conveys a point and has originality. but the theater i seen it in was full of blacks, whites, and in between browns, the use of the word created an awkward environment and it did so very quickly. This movie is as bad as django with its use of the n-word in a “comedy”. mom’s night had better comedy than this. The fact that people can review this movie and not be in an uproar about the misuse of the n-word, shows that there is a level of racial insensitivity, and comparability with the word. I mean what were they thinking, blacks will think we’re cool for using the nword, maybe our black friends will let us use the nword as a term of “endearment” now, like what went through their mind when that was in the script. SMH this is ridiculous.

    • You sound like one of those people who are continually looking for something to be offended by…it was simply showing how much of a dork or doofus his friend was…reciting the lyrics to an Outkast song? Yeah, he’s trying to hang on to youth that is no longer there. By the way saying the “n word” is a cop out. Louis CK had it right. Whenever you say the “n word” what do we hear in out minds?. Just don’t call anyone one and it shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s not nice to call a woman a b**** but the word isn’t being erased from novels. The drug war/prohibition hurts blacks more than an insensitive word, but that’s hardly ever touched upon.

  15. The current state of “comedy” is quite poor. I for one have had quite enough of this formulaic trash. Maybe because I’m not female, but Zac Efron has zero appeal and is in fact a spoiled, creepy, untalented young guy. I wish quality actors filled the screens instead of these insipid “pretty” faces.

  16. This was the role Zac Efron was born to play. I am getting pretty bored of Seth Rogan’s one character that he plays in every movie, but it still worked here, but really the best part was Efron – he was just the right mix of ridiculous, but they still portrayed him as a human in a bro-kinda way (and no, I’m not a lovestruck High School Musical fan).

    I love the way Efron’s character throws himself into everything that frat does as a ‘true believer’ in contrast to the younger Franco’s character who kind of gets that it’s all BS. That scene where they’re talking about past frat legends who invented beer pong was so realistic, I can think of dozens of characters from college that probably did that same speech (also props for going old school with David Bowie’s “Queen b****” for that scene.)

    The party scenes were all great, my personal favorite was the pool party they throw after their dildo fundraiser, with “All Night” by Icona Pop blasting and Zac Efron’s smug party face as he looks at Rogan and Byrne’s characters…you can practically hear her saying “keep it down!” in your own head haha.

    Of course the final, best scene is when the’re standing shirtless outside of Abercrombie – probably one of the few times Rogan isn’t annoying in the movie and a great snapshot of the film as a whole.

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