Seth Rogen used to be one of those guys I could only take in small doses. Not that I don’t like him, but sometimes there are actors I simply don’t like to watch for a full hour and a half. There’s been a shift over the last couple years where I can’t seem to get enough. The raunchier the comedy, the better- not that you find Rogen in much that isn’t raunchy. As a romantic interest, that’s when he starts to lose me. I’m all for the chubby guy getting the girl, but I want my comedic actors yelling F-bombs like their lives depend on it- throw in a dildo fight and that’s just the cherry on top.
NEIGHBORS finds Rogen treading that line of raunchy comedy and semi-romantic interest. Except in this case he plays Mac, a chubby family man who already got the girl, Kelly (Rose Byrne), and had a baby with her. Instead of competing for affection Mac and his wife find themselves waiting to see who will move into the house next to them. When their new neighbors turn out to be a bunch of hard partying frat boys they try to be cool and hit it off with them at first. However, when Mac does exactly what the frat president, Teddy (Zac Efron), asked very politely for the couple not to do by calling the police things get awkward. Suddenly a series of escalating pranks erupt as Mac and Kelly scheme to get the frat kicked out and the frat simply want to make the couple suffer.
There’s raunchy comedy and them theirs well, even raunchier comedy- NEIGHBORS falls in the latter. Whatever you do, do not watch this movie next to someone you can’t look in the eyes the moment after laughing at someone having a dildo stuffed into their mouth over and over. I wouldn’t say you can’t enjoy this if you’re sitting next to your old man, but I’m willing to bet you might second guess how hard you are willing to laugh at some of the gags in this.
Your typical raunchy comedy tends to be a little two dimensional. This meaning that while there are attempts to give depth to characters, it isn’t necessarily achieved. NEIGHBORS on the other hand doesn’t just give you two sides to a story, it puts weight behind them. If someone had told me I’d feel sympathetic toward a bunch of frat guys I’d have laughed in their face. At this point in my life I relate much more toward Rogen as the adult trying to avoid being lame, but still embracing adulthood- yet I can still see myself as the young guy clinging desperately to friendships and doing stupid things for the hell of it. Essentially NEIGHBORS is way deeper than it looks on the surface.
The cast is equally as awesome and if I had one complaint, it’s simply that I still have a hard time picturing McLovin aka Christopher Mintz-Plasse as anything but a geeky character. I had no worries that Rogen would bring his A game, but I was kind of surprise at just how well Zac Efron and Rose Byrne fit in with his raunchy improv style. Every last member pitches on though and it makes for an immensely rewarding experience- but also lends to a couple extended sequences of hit and miss jokes.
NEIGHBORS operates on a heightened level of comedy and therefore should not be taken seriously in the least- even with a baby in the mix. However, in spite of some vicious slapstick humor at times there’s a surprising bit of heart behind both sides of the story. No matter what side you find yourself rooting for there’s aspects that connect you to both points of view. NEIGHBORS is one of the few raunchy comedies that hits on all levels and never forgets to be funny even if all the jokes don’t stick.