As I mentioned in my recent review of BLAZING SADDLES (1974), “Comedy is subjective.” I watched NEIGHBORS with no expectations other than I thought the premise had promise. Folks, I’m hear to tell you that I laughed my ass off the entire film. It was more funny and clever than I anticipated and it even had some interesting themes that are explored.
Mac Radner (Seth Rogan) and wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) are not only new parents, but they are new homeowners. The reality of now having to be adults hasn’t exactly sunk in and they are fearful of becoming old and lame.
Things get interesting when a frat house moves in next door to them. They want to be thought of as the cool neighbors, but also want their expectations of respect to be reciprocated. They pay the frat a visit and meet Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco), the house President and V.P.
At first, all is well on the block, but that quickly dissolves and all out war is declared with the neighbors trying to one-up the other in escalating retributions.
The movie is not perfect, but it moves quickly and did a great job keeping me on my toes. I was caught off-guard and blindsided a number of times, which in my opinion is key to a great comedy. NEIGHBORS also did a good job of avoiding stale clichés and gave everyone a little more depth than is usually required for these types of movies.
Rogan and Byrne are a great match and have not been reduced to the “dumb husband” and “nagging wife” that most movies rely on. They both have issues to resolve and are equally as guilty in their actions. The true revelation is how funny Efron and Franco are. Not relegated to simply the vapid baddies, they have their own foibles and, though a little underdeveloped, their bromance is given as much respect as their neighbors’ marriage.
You might completely disagree with my feelings on NEIGHBORS, but all I know is that I haven’t laughed this hardily in a long time. The movie has its charms and earns the laughs and it won me over. I recommend giving it a chance. You might be surprised.