December 11th, 2014

NEIGHBORS (2014) ** ½

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are a married couple with a baby whose wedded bliss is ruined when a fraternity moves next door. At first, the couple is friendly with them and even tries to hang out and party with the frat brothers. Eventually, the racket gets too loud and they call the cops on them. This sets off a chain of retaliatory actions between the neighbors that quickly escalates into a full-scale war.

Neighbors has nothing to do with the 1981 John Belushi/Dan Aykroyd comedy of the same name, although the stars are similarly cast against type. Seth Rogen plays the mild-mannered family man (who still isn’t above smoking pot and eating mushrooms) and Zac Effron is the wild and crazy party guy. Effron is actually pretty funny, and his performance is the most surprising thing about the movie. He’s especially good in the scenes where his character exhibits a darker side.

Although the laughs pretty much dry out by the end, there are still a couple of chuckles to be had. We get a funny scene where Rogen and Effron talk about their favorite Batman, and there’s a great gag involving some breast milk. A lot of the jokes are in poor taste though and some of them just plain aren’t funny.

I also took issue with the awful display of parenting by Rogen and Byrne. Some of their scenes were cringe-inducing, especially if you’re a parent yourself (like when the baby gets a hold of a condom). I mean how many parents do you know would actually leave their child alone for hours at a time like that so they could go do drugs and party? Sure, Neighbors has a couple of laughs, but it’s definitely one of Rogen’s lesser vehicles.