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NEIGHBORS (review)

Review by Caitlyn Thompson
Produced by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, James Weaver
Written by Andrew J. Cohen, Brendan O’Brien
Directed by Nicholas Stoller
Starring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne
Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Ike Barinholtz, Carla Gallo, Lisa Kudrow
Craig Roberts, Hannibal Buress, Halston Sage
Ali Cobrin, Jake Johnson 

Admittedly, I went into this movie with low expectations.

Typically, frat house films featuring a war between young and old result in ninety-minute sessions of clichés and overused stereotypes—the frat boys are airheads with zero beneath their hard heads and the adults are born naïve, conservative, and nagging.

Fortunately, that’s not the case with Neighbors, which is what makes it amazing.

Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are a modern, happily married couple with an adorable baby girl. But when Teddy (Zac Efron) and his fraternity move in next-door, Mac and Kelly need to figure out how to tell these guys to “keep it down,” in a sly, hip manner.

After Mac and Kelly introduce themselves with stellar awkwardity (my special word), Teddy invites them over for a sweet night of partying. As things wind down, they all believe an appropriate neighborly protocol has been cemented—don’t make too much noise and don’t call the cops.

Whoops.

When the baby’s sleep schedule is disturbed, Mac is forced to call the cops, after which, the fraternity declares war. A gut-wrenching compilation of scheming, revenge, parties, and pranks ensues. It’s awesome. And quite successfully, exciting.

Neighbors has a perfect balance of debauchery and heartfelt moments. And while its story is simple, the characters are original and have a delightful amount of depth.

Rogan and Byrne have incredibly chemistry that’s pragmatic and heart warming, but at the same time, devious and fun.

While they aren’t boring, they do appear rather bored with their lives, as the extent of their excitement is having a minute or two of sex on a dining room chair, as their baby sort-of looks the other way. They aren’t bewildered by or envious of the younger generation. They smoke weed, joke during sex, and exhibit grown-up behavior of folks who were once young. It’s realistic.

Zac Efron’s performance is surprisingly great. From High School Musical to 17 Again to That Awkward Moment, the actor has developed into a sexy, potty mouthed, sadistic fraternity president. And he does it flawlessly. He shows little mercy to Mac and Kelly, orchestrates the most emasculating and grotesque rush events, yet remains lovable.

The camaraderie between he and Pete (Dave Franco), Teddy’s second in command/best friend, is sweet and truly brotherly. The subtle traces of resentment, jealousy, and indifference between the two are genuine and intriguing for the frat-genre. Franco’s role reminds the audience that, yes, these guys are also college students with responsibilities, not just morons with ever-flowing cash to burn on ragers.

However, Teddy is in Neverland. He doesn’t want to grow up, but more, he doesn’t really believe he can.

Neighbors is ridiculous and truly funny.

The depth of the characters really makes this film stand apart from other ridiculous college, frat comedies. The incredible soundtrack and cinematography also make it super enjoyable. Slow motion dancing at glow-in-the-dark themed raves in sync with the beat of killer dub-step tunes immerses you within the fun frantic story.

I was damn ready to party hard after the movie ended.

And then go home to my quiet neighborhood where I’m miles from any frat houses.

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