Who would you rather have as a neighbor, Seth Rogen or Zac Efron? “Neighbors” gives you a chance to choose a team as the two battle against each other and the problems that arise from living next door to each other. Mac (Rogen) and his wife, Kelly (Rose Byrne) are trying to hold on to their post-collegiate days as long as possible but with a newborn in the mix, they are finding a boring rhythm they are not used to.
Enter Teddy (Efron), Pete (Dave Franco) and their house full of frat brothers who happen to move in next door to bring a youthful vibe to the neighborhood, but maybe not quite the level that Mac and Kelly were hoping for. Not wanting to come across off uncool, Mac and Kelly take the initiative to introduce themselves and ask their new neighbors to “keep it down.”
Following the first frat party, it becomes clear that this is not going to happen and pranks back and forth ensue to try the drive the other one out. On their own, Rogen, Byrne and Efron, each have their own fun sense of humor, but together it doesn’t quite mesh and at times is like awkwardly watching an unfunny stand up comic. You want to laugh. You know you should laugh. But you don’t.
Byrne, who is not necessarily considered a comedic actress, brings a certain shock factor to her performance much like we saw in “Bridesmaids." She also brings a much needed boost of femininity to the frat-filled, fart-joke heavy kind of humor that can only come from a movie that is centered around guys in their early 20s.
It’s not the best that Rogen’s been in, but it’s hard to make a frat joke feel fresh. There are only so many times you can bring up male anatomy and sexual innuendos before you feel like you have left the era of what is “in” because you don’t get the humor anymore.
The movie has heart and a few easy laughs in the “American Pie” sort of way, but will not reach the kind of phenomenon that populated from that movie’s characters. Why? Shock value is harder to come by in this social media, viral video world and if you base your jokes on what is aimed to shock audiences, it can be forgotten about as quick as a tweet posted thirty seconds ago.
Final words: Rogen and Byrne bring the funny. Efron brings the looks. A good, basic blend for a summer comedy.
"Neighbors" releases in theaters May 9th