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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Neighbors Movie Review

In "Neighbors", Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play Mac and Kelly Radner - a young, married couple with an adorable baby and a new house in a quiet, suburban neighborhood. They're happy, but in a bit of a rut. When the house next door goes for sale, they're hopeful that it will be taken by a nice, interracial gay couple. Instead, their new neighbors turn out to be a fraternity, led by the boyish Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron).

(How any zoning committee would allow a fraternity to live in a residential neighborhood is anyone’s guess, but okay, let’s play along.)

Not wanting to come off as "uncool" to the frat, Mac and Kelly initially try and make nice with the boys, hoping they can convince them to keep things to a dull roar. Likewise, Teddy woos them with a party invitation so they won't call the cops. It's a mutually beneficial relationship for about 24 hours, when Mac and Kelly sober up and realize the party's not going to stop.

When Mac places what he thinks is an anonymous call to the police (it's not, thanks to caller i.d.), it sparks an all-out-war between Teddy and the Radners. In a series of over-the-top set pieces, the conflict quickly escalates from cat calls and complaints to vandalism and bodily harm - interspersed with drug use, endless dick jokes, two (count 'em) Seth Rogen sex scenes, a dildo fight and enough homoerotic fraternity mayhem to make "Animal House" look quaint by comparison. (Hint: it's NOT a family film.)

At first glance, the film's thin premise seems merely an excuse to engage in the kind of bawdy, gross-out humor that Rogen and pals are known for. But the story underneath is about growing up and accepting responsibility; Mac and Kelly accepting their lives as parents, Teddy accepting life after the frat. The tension between surrendering to adulthood and being "cool" keeps Mac and Kelly interesting while the dick jokes are flying. Rogen and Byrne do an admirable job poking humor at the challenges of being in a marriage once the honeymoon is over. Efron's baby face belies Teddy's fear, and his meanness.

There's no need to dig too deeply, though. There are many genuinely funny moments along with the requisite crude humor. If you like that sort of thing, there are enough laughs to pull you through the film's 96-minute running time. But it might actually pull too many punches to warrant repeat viewing.

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