A young married couple, played by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, suddenly feel old when their new next-door NEIGHBORS, consisting of an entire University frat house led by Zac Efron, party like it’s 2014…
Promoted as a rivalry between tubby regular guy Rogen as Mac and muscular pretty boy Efron as Frat brat Teddy, instead of polar opposite rivalry much of the film consists of each side holed up inside their own property, wondering how to play the next hand against either unseen antagonist.
Teddy's buddy Pete (Dave Franco) is way more sensitive and caring than Mac’s wife, Kelly, wherein Rose Byrne slips out of her usually passive character and really goes for it: providing her husband an equal partner-in-crime to shut down the party for good. Their schemes range from flooding the frat house to causing a love-triangle rift between best friends, but none of the results are involving or humorous. And when Efron’s desperate Teddy plants airbags to catapult Mac around like a rag doll, it’s much too farfetched.
Rogen and Byrne have the bland chemistry of a brother and sister who happen to be married, while Efron and Franco seem part of a “bromance” that would garner five minutes in a throwaway sex comedy. Meanwhile the punchlines are too inside to be funny: the characters know each other way more than we ever will. It's as if two comedy genres crashed into each other and were never quite sure how to deal with the repercussions.
If the put-upon married couple (much too wild to seem like worthy victims) didn’t have rowdy neighbors they wouldn’t be interesting at all… Not even Judd Apatow would waste time on their neurotic marriage, consisting of an infant keeping dad and mom from a social life. And if Efron and company were allowed to party all night without restraint, they’d have a lot more fun than the audience, who deserved a much better time.
Score: *1/2 out of ****
By James M. Tate