News

REVIEW: ‘Neighbors’ offers more than dirty jokes

REVIEW: ‘Neighbors’ offers more than dirty jokes

Zac Efron earns his "Best Shirtless Performance" MTV Movie Award with a scene from "Neighbors." Photo: Associated Press/Universal Pictures, Glen Wilson

Genre: Comedy | Run Time: 96 min | Rated: R
Director: Nicholas Stoller | Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco

By: George Wolf

How do you feel about dirty jokes?

Chances are, you’ll enjoy Neighbors regardless, but a particular appreciation for blue humor is definitely a plus. It’s a frat movie. What else were we expecting?

Here’s what you should expect: fully developed characters, solid performances, onscreen chemistry from the weirdest of pairings, clever direction, sharp writing, and pacing quick enough to make it tough to catch your breath between jokes. And, of course, dirty jokes.
Nice, right?

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play new parents still adjusting to the boring responsibility of adulthood when a fraternity buys the house next door.

What Rogen lacks in range he makes up for in schlubby comic ability, particularly with a script so self-aware and custom-made to his strengths. At one point, when the couple is arguing over who’s to blame for their situation, Rogen’s Mac tells his wife that she has to be the responsible grown up. “Haven’t you ever seen a Kevin James movie?” he asks her. “We can’t both be Kevin James.”

While Rogen is reliably Rogen, Byrne explores new territory and conquers. She more than carries her comic load, and her chemistry with Rogen, in particular, is wonderful.

Truth be told, there’s not a one-note character in the lot. Neighbors never traps itself with old frat boy stereotypes. Sure, they’re all good-looking, vacuous partiers who abuse pledges – that is the basic conflict in the film, after all – but the characters themselves get a fuller treatment than what you might expect.

Zac Efron looks good without a shirt, but he also hits all the right notes, bringing a little depth and empathy to the role of frat president Ted. Dave Franco makes an excellent second banana, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse plays nicely against type as slacker stoner Scoonie.

The laughs are continuous, and while the film certainly has a heart, it’s not the kind of sappy last-minute-lesson-learned crap that derails most raunchy comedies. There’s an awkward tenderness and humanity that informs the film from start to finish that makes any lessons feel more honest and earned.

Director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) reigns in his tendency to toward excess, bringing the film in at a brisk 96 minutes. He crams those visually arresting minutes with as much deeply flawed human comedy as possible. And at least half that time is spent above the “blue” line.

Verdict-4-0-Stars

Read more movie reviews at MaddWolf.com.

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

‘Girls’ star Allison Williams to play Peter Pan on live TV

alisonwilliams

The star of the HBO comedy will play Peter Pan opposite Christopher Walken as Captain Hook in the TV musical special "Peter Pan Live! on NBC."

in Sports

Nadal withdraws from Toronto, Cincinnati events

nadal

Rafa Nadal will miss two U.S. Open tune-up events due to a wrist injury, putting his status in doubt for a title defense at the year's final grand slam.

in Entertainment

Chris Pratt goes from slob to heartthrob

chrispratt

With a more buff physique than his character Andy Dwyer on "Parks and Recreation," Pratt combines cocky and dorky into an unlikely leader of a band of outcasts bent on saving the galaxy.

in Viral Videos

Little girl doesn’t want her brother to grow up

Sister Grows Up

Five-year-old Sadie doesn't want her little brother to grow up because he's too cute now as a baby.

in Entertainment

Drew Barrymore’s sister found dead

drewbarrymore

Jessica Barrymore, daughter of actors John Drew Barrymore and Nina Wayne, was found dead in her car.