Starring Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Lisa Kudrow
Directed by Nicholas Stoller
Despite proving to be funny at times, Neighbors is a one-joke movie that wears old fast. About 25 minutes in, I found myself looking at the clock as I was having a difficult time determining how there could be any more plot to milk from this simple story of married couple Mac and Kelly (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) who have their world turned upside down when a fraternity headed by Teddy and Pete (Zac Efron and Dave Franco) move in next door in their quiet suburban neighborhood.
I was willing to forego the notion that not a single other neighbor is disturbed by the raucous parties that take place at the newly formed frathouse. (Yes, the film attempts to explain this off, but it's an utterly ridiculous explanation.) The problem is that the premise of this flick is so simplistic that even at a ninety-minue runtime, it can't flesh out the plot because there's nothing to flesh out. Frat guys do crazy things and married couple -- who were hoping to be hip enough to be buddies with the frat -- get angry when they realize they're not as young as they used to be. There's not much more than that. While some of the frat's raucous pranks and the married couple's reactions are funny, they're just comedic bits that don't really add up to much of a plot. As an ongoing skit on SNL, this may have worked, but forming an overall movie from this is a bit weak.
That isn't to say that Neighbors didn't make me laugh -- it did so multiple times thanks to the good performances from Seth Rogen (who is essentially playing Seth Rogen), Rose Byrne (who has a nice comedic deadpan style to her), and Dave Franco (proving as of late that he's less smarmy oncreen -- and that's a good thing -- than his more famous brother James). Color me surprised, however, that the star of the show is Zac Efron whose frat president Pete is suave, debonair, yet also sneaky and underhanded. Presumably Efron's been trying to break away from his High School Musical image over the past several years and he's surprisingly good as he makes fun of his toned body and spotless image.
Director Nicholas Stoller does have some inspired moments -- a rave party showcased some nice directorial flourishes -- but Neighbors unfortunately doesn't amount to much despite the good stuff it has going for it.
The RyMickey Rating: C