Directed By: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Dave Franco
I have to admit, penis jokes aside, Neighbors is a pretty funny movie. And while that sentence my not instill a lot of confidence those who dislike crude humor movies, the main characters and their stories were surprisingly the best part of the movie.
Mac and Kelly are married with a baby and struggling to figure out how to balance adulthood with still having fun and adventures. When a fraternity moves next door, the couple find themselves in the middle of a feud with the frats leaders Teddy and Pete. With a premise like this, you can almost guess what happens. But what I liked about this story was Mac and Kelly. Seth Rogan and Rose Bryne had great chemistry as a married couple. Their performances had this natural ease about them. As characters they loved each other, knew how to have fun together, worked well together, and didn’t fight over seemingly petty things. They were a team, each bringing hilarious things to the table.
And it was a breath of fresh air.
That being said, this movie was the strongest when it was focused on Mac and Kelly’s relationship and when the couple went “balls to the walls” with the prank retaliation against the frat. It was weakest when it focused purely on the frat and their drama. Maybe it’s just me getting older as a viewer, or more critical as a reviewer, I felt like a lot of the frat stuff just didn’t work. And it was, in fact, eye-rollingly lame. While the partying part was fine and made sense, the side story lines, “best friend” drama felt a little forced. Plus, I don’t know what it is about Dave Franco, but sometimes he can be a little much. But like brother like brother I guess.
The movie also had the right balance of emotional moments that didn’t veer too far into sappy territory. This kept the movie from being too cliché. Instead, it was consistently light and fun, turning crazy situations into hilarity instead of frustration. Some comedies often take scenarios too far where it’s not funny anymore and more taxing and frankly annoying (see: Due Date and Identify Thief). Most of the time this movie knew when to reign in the shenanigans. (Which could be a great title for a comedy, Reigning in the Shenanigans, don’t you think?)
With many comedies, you have jokes and scenarios that are hit or miss. While this movie had one (or five) to many penis jokes for me overall I found it pretty funny. The last act had the entire theater going “oh!” It was like watching a bunch of youtube videos of epic wipeouts that make you laugh out loud. And if none of these things appeal to you…there’s always a shirtless Zac Efron to look forward to.