Very crude humor that sometimes steps over the line, but I can’t deny that I occasionally laughed big. Neighbors has embarrassing moments for the put-upon thirties-something couple that are equally embarrassing for the audience. Opening with a romantic scene – wait a minute, there’s nothing romantic about Seth Rogen nor will there ever be. He’s humping his wife played by the game Rose Byrne while their baby, a few months older, watches. “He just sees shapes,” Seth says in justification. Then a fraternity moves in next door played by party-hard Zac Efron (often baring his chest and ripples). The mistake is believing that a friendship can be forged between two demographics.
The couple is invited over for a wild night, and we say, these parents are cool enough to hang out with frat boys! But then responsibility of raising their child and working for a living creeps in, as well as protecting their baby’s ears. They try to tell the boys next door to tone it down and lower the volume, but it wages a war. The only way to win is to get this fraternity thrown from the neighborhood. It’s a parents-be-good versus college-jackasses movie.
Let it be said, “Neighbors” is the most immature movie I’m probably going to like this year. Seth and Zac get high together and do Batman impersonations, and I’m laughing. Soon after, the friendship is soiled and even the facial expressions of disdain and bitterness is good comedy. Also, instead of a conventional screenplay where the wife is the voice of sanity, she joins in on the larceny of breaking into the fraternity house and setting up video that will incriminate this fraternity as irresponsible. Rose is prissy in appearance, but she’s surprisingly funny, and has a mischievous streak. She’s done comedy before in “Bridesmaids” (2011), and excels again here.
There are the unnecessary scenes, I want to bring up, that will have different ranges of intolerance for select audiences. I hardly needed to see Rose’s swollen mammaries from breast-feeding for instance, especially since it is not real life but make-up prosthetics over-amplifying the sight gag. The planted whoopee cushions, excuse me, air bags that are hidden under seats the propel Seth isn’t offensive, but to me, it’s done redundantly. I’m also aware that many audiences won’t care one way or another, and find something about those scenes to snicker about.
Impressively to me, however, is that those frat parties find a tone of hedonistic high and debauchery in ways that haven’t been this well done since “Animal House” (1978) or “Revenge of the Nerds” (1984). In my lonely opinion, “Old School” (2003) only seemed wild, but the staging to me always smelled of Hollywood movie set. “Project X” (2012) was outrageous, but morally beyond contempt. Although, I once had a reader say who am I to judge if something is moral? OK, of course, comedy is subjective. I do declare, I know a good disposed condom on the lawn joke when I see one.
Who wins at the end? I can’t possibly tell you, but I will spoil this. Zac becomes an “Abercrombie & Fitch” model, and Seth’s baby also gets into some modeling. We walk out of the theater assuming the baby isn’t going to be psychologically scarred for life.
96 Minutes. Rated R.
COMEDY / CRUDE HUMOR / WEEKEND VIEWING DEBAUCHERY
Film Cousins: “National Lampoon’s Animal House” (1978); “Revenge of the Nerds” (1984); “Back to School” (1986); “Old School” (2003).