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This neighborhood deserves to be watched…

by Kevin J. Johnson

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NEIGHBORS is Universal Pictures’ latest comedy from director Nicholas Stoller, featuring Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as Mac and Kelly Radner, two parents who have to contend with their new neighbors, a raucous fraternity called Delta Psi Beta. Their president Teddy Sanders, played by Zac Efron, makes it their mission to throw a series of legendary parties, each one wilder than the last. Sanders is a poster-boy frat bro, and just wants to party. The Radners have a newborn, and just want to sleep. In short, hilarity ensues.

The plot, from scripters Andrew Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, is razor-wire thin, enough of a premise to create a clothesline for jokes, a la Animal House. They get all the easy jokes out of the way in a brilliant montage, and the bits get naughtier and crazier. There are good gags throughout the entire running time of the movie, escalating the stakes until it’s flat-out war.

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Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five-Year Engagement) assembles a killer ensemble cast, with Rogen and Efron forming the spine of the conflict. Rogen’s as funny as ever, and Zac Efron is fantastic; a total 180-degree turn from his Disney Channel days. Rose Byrne is totally down for whatever, continuing her wild streak from Get Him to the Greek.

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The fraternity cast is great in and of itself, with Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Jerrod Carmichael pulling their weight. They could have been in a movie by themselves, but the Radners and their posse are just as insane. Ike Barinholtz (MADtv, The Mindy Project) especially grabs some good laughs as Mac’s co-worker. Everyone in the film gets a good shot in; the jokes are well-balanced throughout all the players.

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Neighbors is as funny as the some of the more recent comedy hits: Anchorman, 40 Year Old Virgin, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle. This is a modern comedy classic, as quotable and raunchy as the previously mentioned. Efron and Rogen have one of the most hilarious fights I’ve seen in a comedy. Plus, there are some real emotional beats for most of the main characters, touching on generational clashes, anxiety about parenthood and the future, and holding on to our wild youth.

This film is highly recommended to be seen with a large crowd late at night. I’m still cracking myself up remembering jokes from this sucker. I cannot wait to see it again.

Rating: [IMAX/matinee/dollar-show/redbox/netflix/skip-it]

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