What if the new next-door neighbors made your life a living Hell? That’s the better-than-average premise behind Seth Rogen’s latest comedy “Neighbors”. Unfortunately, even with a decent concept and cast, there aren’t nearly enough laughs to qualify this as a neighborhood must-watch.
Rogen and Rose Byrne play Mac and Kelly, a young married couple with an infant daughter named Stella. One day they notice that the house next door has been sold to the worst possible new owners: a fraternity. Delta Si (led by Zac Efron’s Teddy and Dave Franco’s Pete) promise to “give it the old college try” when it comes to keeping the noise down. But of course, it’s a college fraternity, and that means loud and wild parties almost every night.
Mac and Kelly initially try to make friends with their new neighbors in hopes that they’ll decide on their own to keep things down, but soon get fed-up with the loud noise, which is keeping them up all night, and decide to call the cops. When Teddy learns from the officer (one of the funnier characters in the film) that it was the nice neighbors who made the complaint, he begins an all-out-prank war on them. Soon, Mac and Kelly realize they must retaliate in order to try to get the fraternity shut-down for good.
Unlike last year’s star-studded apocalyptic comedy “This is The End”, Rogen is not one of the writers or directors of “Neighbors”. Instead, Nicholas Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) and first-time feature film writers Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien are behind this very uneven effort.
On one hand, the script does include some clever dialogue, good one-liners and smart situations. But the majority of “Neighbors” misses the mark, mistaking over-the-top, offensive, and vulgar sexual material for humor. That only works if it’s funny and here it is not. Based on the plot I expected a lot of slapstick and there is. A few moments do provide big laughs, but the rest of the time it falls flat. No way of knowing if Rogen would’ve helped or hurt the script had he been part of the creative team (he’s shown the ability to do both in the past), but this one definitely needed another re-write or two.
“Neighbors” is rated R for Raunchy: it’s filled with crude adult content, as well as language and nudity. It’s appropriate for mid-teens and up. This isn’t a complete disaster. Rogen and Efron make a decent comedy pairing, particularly in some well-timed ad-libbed moments, and “Friends” alum Lisa Kudrow adds to the fun in a cameo as the college dean. The potential was there for a wacky, edgy summer kick-off comedy.
The poet Robert Frost is credited with the famous saying: “Good fences make good neighbors.” This movie could have used more good fences.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Neighbors” gets a C.