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‘Neighbors’ has a scattered plot, but lots of laughs



Need a good weekend laugh? “Neighbors” has what you are looking for.

Seth Rogen and Zac Efron team up to present this story about the phases of our lives and the different people we become during each. “Neighbors” pits a new father and mother against a house full of fraternity punks.

Mac and Kelly Radner (Rogen and Rose Byrne) are raising their first child, a little infant girl and have just wrapped all their money into a gorgeous family home. As their luck would have it, a pack of rowdy college boys hell bent on having the most fun moves in next door and skews the equilibrium of their quiet life.

In an effort to preserve the normal, middle-classness they envision for themselves the Radners visit the frat house in a preemptive strike against what they know will happen: out of control parties, noise levels up to the sky and sex & drugs.

Not ideal for an infant or her parents, so they all come to terms. But, when their agreement goes sour, the take-downs ensue. A tit-for-tat, you-knife-my-back-I-knife-yours rendezvous heats up between the couple and the college kids until it becomes clear what is really eating Mac and Teddy Sanders (Efron). They aren’t really fighting with each other. They are struggling with themselves.

The most frequently raised question about this film is, is it funny? Truthfully, it is freagin’ hilarious. But under the surface this movie explores the human response to facing down those frightening future phases and who we become when we’re afraid to let go of past ones.

The Radners and Teddy suffer from the same symptoms. Both parties deal with regret and fear. They choose to take it out on each other in the most insanely waggish ways before they face facts. It’s all about the self, the ego being unable to gracefully let go. But they have a blast before they realize it and so do we.

The only downfalls to the film are the pacing in Act Two becomes a bit slow and some of the jokes a little tedious. They feel recycled for a bit in the middle there. The storyline is virtually non-existent from the start and it kind of flattens under the avalanche punchlines.

This is definitely a “what would happen if…” movie. It just takes off down the road of conflict with really no rising action, little plot pacing and it’s hard to know when we’ve reached the climax. But for a film like this, that can be okay. It’s more about the comic release than the narrative.

The performances ring at the proper tone for this film. Rogen, Efron, Byrne and Dave Franco as Pete are in perfect harmony and bounce effortlessly off each other joke after joke after joke.

For some moms and childhood fans of the former Efron he has certainly grown up. He is more than easy on the eyes and it’s now okay to admit we look at him “that way”. But, his talent is also growing as an actor. That’s easy to see even in this not-so-superficial, but terribly explicit comedy.

Fans might hope he does not inundate his resume with a string of these kinds of films. He has the chops for much greater things. It’s fun to see him drop “f” bombs, flirt and go shirtless. But it’s becoming questionable how he wants to define his career. Does a movie like “Neighbors” play to his potential?

For now, let the bell of fun and mayhem toll. Let pleasure and moderation be pit against the other. Let youth and middle-agedness tango.

May you never have boring “Neighbors”.

See it. Adults only.

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