In a summer that already seems to be massively dominated by Superhero films and reboots of already existing franchises, Seth Rogan’s latest comedy moves in next door and shuts it all down. Neighbors very smartly and hilariously shows what happens when a college Frat House that moves in next door to a couple of mid 30s adults who are struggling with their newfound mid-life responsibilities and the ability to remain “cool”. It’s a refreshingly intelligent comedy that recalls the maturity of a Judd Apatow directed film, while having the same ridiculous amounts of inappropriate humor as Seth Rogan’s last film, This Is The End.
Aside from being a standard comedy about a group of Frat guys coming in a starting a war with their neighbors, Neighbors plays out like a perfect look into the window of mid-life crisis “are we still cool?” mindset. When Mac and Kelly (Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne) seek the approval of their new neighbors Teddy and Pete (Zac Effron and Dave Franco), the couple initially leave their baby behind to go party with the Frat, not realizing that Teddy & Pete only want to party with them so that Mac and Kelly won’t call the cops on them. Of course, that doesn’t last long, cops are called, and war breaks out. But underneath it all, it’s a film about the necessity of coming to terms with adulthood.
Not just from Mac and Kelly’s side of the fence, but from Teddy and Pete’s as well. It’s the final year of college and Pete has an Architecture internship lined up after graduation, while Teddy spent the entirety of college slacking off and partying and is coming to terms with his lack of plan post-college. Having that sub-plot keeps the film feeling relevant and intelligent, and not just a movie about about a bunch of stoners, which a lot of comedies like this can tend to turn out. Neighbors truly happens to obtain the same vibe of Judd Apatow’s notoriously mature comedies, but without the bloated run-time.
The biggest revelation with Neighbors, however, is not the maturity of it, but Zac Efron’s ability as a comedian. Dude just absolutely knocks it out of the park, and gives one of the strongest, if not strongest, performance in the entire film. Not sure if anyone ever envisioned the kid from High School Musical getting super ripped and comedically owning a comedy, but godammit, he’s done it.
While Neighbors may have that strong undercurrent of maturity, fear not, the film is still packed to the rafters with that classic humor that we’ve all come so accustomed to from Seth Rogan flicks. Between Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad‘s McLovin) having a legendary enormous dick, Mac & Kelly dressing their baby as Heisenberg from Breaking Bad, and probably one of the best Outkast references to ever grace cinema, Neighbors works entirely on a comedic level as well.
Neighbors arrives just in time for anyone burnt out on giant sci-fi superhero movies, and just want a quick easy laugh with a little bit of heart as well. It’s worth your 90 minutes, and definitely worth it if you just want to stare at a shirtless Zac Effron the entire time. Who wouldn’t? There’s no better choice this weekend while waiting for Godzilla next week, as well as attempting to rid that awful taste in your mouth from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, than Neighbors.
I give Neighbors a 4.5 out of 5.
By Richard Pepper