Film Review “Neighbors”

neighborsStarring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrnes
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 36 mins

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Meet the Radners. Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Byrnes) and their young baby, Stella. A young couple in the early years of a long life together, they’re world is upset when the brothers (and pledges) of fraternity Delta Psi buy the house next door. Hoping to nip any problems in the bud, the Radners make friends with the frats president, Teddy (Efron). But when things get too loud one night, Mac calls the cops, which begins a long running feud that may never end. Meet the Neighbors!

A mildly funny script made tolerable by a fun cast, “Neighbors” tries to be a cross between “Animal House” and “Old School” but, sadly, is more like a second-rate “Van Wilder” sequel. Rogen is the film’s version of Frank the Tank (Will Ferrell in “Old School”), a man who, despite marital responsibilities, refuses to grow up. Efron is Otter (Tim Matheson in “Animal House”), the smooth talking frat boy. Both are well cast, as is Byrnes, who gets to reveal her Australian accent here. But the stand out actor here is Dave Franco. So good in films like “Now You See Me” and “21 Jump Street” (you’ll also see him in the sequel), Franco gives the best performance as the frat vice president with more going on for him than he lets on. He shares the best scene in the film, which encompasses him and Efron riffing on the various ways that “bros before hos” can be expressed.

If there is a complaint here it’s that the film is not original. Stereotypical fraternity pledges (the fat guy whose shirt is too small, the nerd with the oversized penis) show up frequently as do they’re hijinx. The script, by first time feature writers Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, mixes in some fun sight gags but isn’t consistently funny enough to keep the slow spots from showing up and dragging the film down with them. Director Coller is adequate here, but he’s done better work with other comedies, including “Saving Sarah Marshall” and “Get Him to the Greek.” Of course, he was also working with a much better screenplay.

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