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

REVIEW: ‘Wild’ is both unsettling and triumphant

This image released by Fox Searchlight Pictures shows Reese Witherspoon in a scene from the film, "Wild."

Reese Witherspoon leaves her comfort zone as real-life hiker Cheryl Strayed in "Wild."

in Music

This week’s top pop songs

taylorswift

LISTEN: This week's top pop songs, according to the latest Billboard chart.

in Entertainment

Cameron Diaz engaged to Good Charlotte star

camerondiaz

The "Charlie's Angels" star is reportedly planning to marry Benji Madden.

in Entertainment

MOVIES: 25 Days of Christmas Films

James Stewart, center, is reunited with his wife, Donna Reed, left, and children during the last scene of Frank Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life".

Count down to Christmas with these 25 festive holiday movies.

in Black Friday, Entertainment

‘TIS THE SEASON: Holiday specials, bowl games this weekend

Elf

Here's a look at Christmas classics, holiday favorites, and sports specials airing this weekend.