By:Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
In the lives of everyone, there are certain milestones we each hit. Our first words and first steps in our early years, graduating high school, the freedom of starting college, marriage and having children. There are many other milestones in life, but these are just a few. Usually these milestones are times for celebration and to be remembered. But, as life has a tendency to do, things don’t always go according to plan. Director Nicholas Stoller tackles a couple of these in his latest film, Neighbors, blending the life of a married couple with a young child with new neighbors who just happen to be a fraternity.
Husband and wife Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) Radner made a move to the suburbs with their infant daughter. Outside of the diminished sex and social lives the couple shares, things are going pretty well as new parents. So what does bring some excitement into their lives? The thought of getting new neighbors to move in next door, of course. But when they find out that the new “neighbors” happen to be the Delta Psi Beta fraternity from the local college, Mac and Kelly know this could be bad for the baby with loud parties. Mac and Kelly, realizing they no longer fit into that “college” life, decide to play it nice and ask the fraternity to “keep it down” by extending an olive branch of sorts to fraternity leader Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) and the other pledges. But when Mac and Kelly can no longer deal with the intrusion into their lives, they take matters into their own hands and try to get the fraternity removed. But will they be successful or will young, college minds prevail?
Neighbors is a film with a simple story and not a whole lot of character development, but a whole lot of fun. Mac and Kelly are instantly likable in their suburbian way and you want to pull for them. But, deep down, you don’t really care if they end up with their quiet life back, you just want to see what hilarity they will stoop to in order to make that goal into a reality. So the real focus becomes not necessarily on the characters and their arcs (which there aren’t any real character arcs outside of a couple fraternity members), but on who (the Radners or Delta Psi Beta) can one-up the other even more. Regardless of who wins and who loses in this neighborly battle, the audience is the real winner.
While Mac and Kelly are undeniably the anchors of the film, the only real character growth and development is seen from Teddy and his main man, Pete (Dave Franco). Teddy plays as the guy who will try to do right by the neighborhood but, in reality, the fraternity is priority number one and the fraternity’s goal is the main thing on his mind. But as the narrative plays out, Teddy comes to realize that this life isn’t something he can have forever, and realizes that eventually he’ll be in the same position that Mac is in. Pete, on the other hand, is completely up for destroying the neighbors but also happens to be a good student. After a mid-film plot point, Pete sees that what they are doing isn’t right and that the fraternity life won’t get them anywhere in life necessarily, instead choosing to focus more on his future.
Seth Rogen is typical, hilarious Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne nails it just as she did in Bridesmaids. While the story, as was mentioned, is simple in structure, the real fun is watching how far each group will go to get the other to yield. Due to the lack of layers to the film, Neighbors fails to take it to the level of some of the comedy greats. The film is definitely not for children as it pushes boundaries much like Bridesmaids and The Hangover, but, like the aforementioned films, this one, too, is absolutely hilarious. Neighbors is the perfect segue into the entertaining summer season with its fun cast and great comedic elements.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars