The battle between a young married couple and the residents of a frat house next door escalates hilariously in “Neighbors,” a new comedy by Nick Stoller that opened Friday.
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play Mac and Kelly, a couple with an infant daughter whose birth has prompted them to move to the suburbs. The two desperately want to be cool parents and manage the transition well—until the fraternity Delta Psi Beta moves into the house next door. Noisy parties, led by ultra-buff fraternity president Teddy (Zac Efron) and his devoted wingman Pete (Dave Franco), become the source of conflict between the neighbors.
Initially, the two groups attempt to get along and bridge the generation gap, with Teddy inviting the couple over for a wild all-night house party featuring magic mushrooms. But soon enough, Mac and Kelly call the police on one of the frat’s weeknight bashes, and the two houses declare a tit-for-tat war. The tensions escalate steadily as Teddy and Pete keep finding inventive ways to terrorize the couple, who simply want their quiet life back.
The acting in the film is outstanding, and every character has a likable side, which is often not the case in raunchy comedies of this kind. Rogen and Byrne are a sweet couple and have great on-screen chemistry. Rogen shows impeccable comedic timing, although he plays the same type of goofy character that he usually does. Byrne is as funny as she was in her role as the passive-aggressive Helen in “Bridesmaids,” confirming once again that she can do comedy really well. Kelly isn’t just supportive of her husband’s revenge plots—she comes up with them on her own, a nice alternative to the stereotypical nagging-wife character.
But in the end, it is Efron and Franco who steal the film. The 26-year-old Efron is convincing as an alpha-male frat leader, and his character presents an interesting mix of narcissism and crudeness. He does, however, show his sensitive side when you would least expect it. Franco’s character has a studious side and, unlike Teddy, and actually seems to be aiming for a bright future. The fights and makeups between the two give “Neighbors” its heart.
Though at times Stoller pushes the humor too far, the film offers plenty of conflict and a ton of laughter, and comedy fans will appreciate Lisa Kudrow appearance and Steve Carell’s cameo. Despite some misses, “Neighbors” is a truly funny film—replete with dirty humor, drugs, dildo fights, penis jokes, and plenty of male nudity by the lead actors.
“Neighbors” opened in theaters on May 9.