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'Neighbors' keeps the laughs coming from start to finish

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play a couple dealing with a fraternity house in Neighbors.
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play a couple dealing with a fraternity house in Neighbors.
Universal Pictures, with permission

Neighbors (movie)

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Release date: May 9, 2014

Directed by: Nicholas Stoller

Written by: Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien

Starring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, and Lisa Kudrow

Official website: Neighbors-Movie.com/

There is a fine line between knowing when it's time to grow up and knowing when your wild and crazy days are best left in the rearview mirror. "Neighbors" let's the audience ponder which side of the wild life line they are living, but never digging too deep in this raunchy and hilarious comedy starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron.

Mac and Kelly Radnor (Rogan and Rose Byrne) are a young couple with the cutest baby in the world. They are having trouble to adjusting to lives as parents, wondering what happened to their personal time, when they get a wake up call that their old lives have more than passed them by when a fraternity literally moves in next door to them.

The brothers of Delta Psi, led by their legend in his own mind President, Teddy (Efron), are the typical trouble making, party too hard frat boys you've seen in just about every college movie. They have wild parties where everyone dresses like Robert DeNiro characters, they are loud, they smoke weed -- well, technically Mac and Kelly smoke weed too, so it' all good on that front. But the frat boys are loud and that's not good for the baby. By the way, the baby is so cute.

Eventually, it all leads to a war between the neighbors as the couple fights to live a nice, normal quiet life that doesn't involve their baby screaming in the middle of the night for hours at at time; and Teddy and Delta Psi try and avoid probation so they can throw one hell of an end of the year party that will etch them firmly on the fraternity's sham of a wall of fame. Efron has come a long way since his "High School Musical" days and is solid here, having no problem going toe to toe with the boisterous Rogen. Adding depth to the fraternity cast is the quickly rising Dave Franco, who is proving to be a great comic actor.

It's not very plausible, even ludicrous at times and it's best not to judge Mac and Kelly as parents, especially during one scene in which they are partying and eating mushrooms at their new neighbors house with only a baby monitor to keep tabs. But it's all in good fun, right? All parents crave that escape, especially in those first few months with a new baby. The important thing is it's funny and never takes itself too seriously.

What saves this movie from falling into the traps of a lot of comedies is the amazing restraint and focus of director Nicholas Stoller, of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "Get Him to the Greek" fame. Where a lot of movies make an about-face and try and get serious in order to deliver a deeper message, Stoller sticks to the hilarious script by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien to deliver a movie that is laugh out loud funny pretty much from beginning to end.

The script is funny, but it's the actors that breathe life into the characters. Seth Rogan isn't exactly dipping into new territory playing the stoner, wanna be cool guy, but he is perfectly suited for the role. And while it may be hard to imagine how he landed someone as cute as Rose Byrne, they make a surprisingly effective duo. Then there is the baby, which manages to steal a few scenes with perfectly time glances and smiles.

"Neighbors" isn't exactly orginal, it won't win any Oscars, and it's probably going to offend more than a few. But there are a lot of laughs and with a rockin' 96 minutes of running time, makes for a short and sweet bit of summer movie fun.

Rating: Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout

Running time: 96 minutes