Watch out “Animal House”, move over “Old School” fans, the movie “Neighbors” has taken up residence as Hollywood’s newest frat-com. This film packs plenty of lewd behavior and laughs, as Seth Rogen (“Knocked Up”) and his family attempts to maintain some semblance of suburban peace and quiet. This comedy builds a strong case for audiences to look into their own Home Owners Associations and Neighborhood Watch programs. In the film, we see Rogen’s Mac Radner character team up with his wife, played perfectly by Rose Byrne (“Bridesmaids”), as they scheme ways to persuade Zac Efron to move his frat-pack to a new zip code.
To describe “Neighbors” as a skirmish along a property line over loud music and kegs, sells short Rogen’s bigger complaint; growing old. He and Byrne are in their early 30’s with a baby girl, Stella. Mac and Kelly Radner are trying to balance parenting, work and responsibility. Meanwhile, Efron repeatedly doffs his shirt, and tosses any attempt to grow up (and “old”) to the street curb – like a crushed beer can.
Director Nick Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) makes this film work with numerous chuckles as a result of adolescent gags and thirty-something comedic situations. Parenthood, marriage, and baby Stella (who steals every scene she’s in) give fodder for a good-natured and silly comedy. Byrne radiates in the movie using her Australian accent and gives us a hilarious performance, almost to the point of overshadowing the standup comic Rogen.
“Neighbors” does have harsh language and several scenes of drug and alcohol use. Viewers that haven’t stepped foot on a college campus since the Carter administration may find many parts offensive. Likewise, filmgoers who’ve already seen the movie trailers for “Neighbors” will be disappointed, already privy to many of its best punchlines.
The movie prompts plenty of laughs and even a few suspense-teasing moments. Rogen and Byrne emerge as a formidable duo; as parents, married couple, thirty-somethings, and comedians. When Efron’s fraternity won’t play fair or be reasonable neighbors, the “old people” must fight back – and they do so, with a vengeance. After it’s all said and done, it’s Zac Efron’s frat leader character Teddy that loses the shirt off his back, and must face adulthood. Final score: Grown ups 1, Fraternity 0.