Movie Maniac

May 9, 2014

Review: ‘Neighbors’ is stupid, silly fun

“Neighbors” is an “Animal House” for a “Hangover” generation. Lewd. Crude. And yes, at times, nude.

“Neighbors” is an “Animal House” for a “Hangover” generation. Lewd. Crude. And yes, at times, nude.

But things have come a long way since “Animal House” in 1978. That movie introduced raunchy comedy. Now it’s its own genre, and “Neighbors” revels in it.

It’s not so much a plotted story as it is a sequence of comedic skits and improvised bits. I can hear the screenwriters now: “Wouldn’t it be funny if they did (blank).” “Then they could retaliate with (blank)!”

Not everything works or hits it mark. But when it does, it’s dead-on, laugh-out-loud hilarious. You can’t really dis a movie for its faults when all it really wants to do is make you laugh, at any cost.

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are Mac and Kelly Radner, who move to a nice suburban home to raise their toddler daughter.

Mac works a mind-numbing job, while Kelly is a stay-at-home mom. Both are bored but dutifully carry on. They do like their new roles as parents, although they miss the days of care-free spontaneous sex and no responsibility. Mac insists, though, that being parents doesn’t make them old. But when they decide to go to a club with child in tow (“Baby’s first rave!”), they fall asleep before even heading out the door.

So when a fraternity moves into the empty house next to them, led by its president, Teddy (Zac Efron), and vice-president, Pete (Dave Franco), Mac and Kelly are secretly jealous. They want to be able to party all night, too.

But they know they can’t. They also know that loud frat parties are going to keep their daughter awake. They decide to be proactive and introduce themselves to the guys. They can’t seem uncool, though, so Mac gives them a gift of marijuana. See? They can be parents and be cool! The frat guys seem impressed and promise to keep the noise down.

Later that night, a party ensues, waking the baby. As much as they hate to, Mac and Kelly have to go next door and ask the guys to quiet down. They confront Teddy and Pete, who promise to turn the noise down, and then invite Mac and Kelly to the party. This obviously thrills Mac, who gets to party like a pot-smoking frat dude while Kelly bonds with their “aww-ing” girlfriends. Everyone has a good time and everything seems hunky-dory.

Until there’s another party the next night, and Mac and Kelly call the cops — a cardinal sin. After that, all-out war is raged as the dudes try to make Mac and Kelly suffer for their actions, and Mac and Kelly try to get the fraternity shut down.

That’s really all of the story. The rest is action, retaliation and one-uppance.

Performances are spot on, though, and it’s funny to see Rogen play the “straight” guy here with his roles in past “pot movies.” Byrne impressively holds her own with the raunchy dudes.

Efron gets a chance to flex his comedy chops along with those abs. He clearly doesn’t mind poking fun at himself.

“Neighbors” is crude in more than ways than one (characters act atypically, situations are forced), but none of that matters. The movie is silly and stupid – just what it’s supposed to be.

Because people seeing it only want to laugh. And they will.

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