Neighbors, the 2014 frat-house comedy starring Zac Efron, Seth Rogen, Rose Bryne, and Dave Franco tells the story of a couple who have just recently purchased a home and are beginning to raise their baby daughter. But soon a fraternity moves into the house next door and the two homes begin a war of sabotage and insults. The film delivers, as advertised, silly juvenile fun that is guaranteed to incite laughter from anyone under the age of 40 and older than 10. However, Neighbors, though a fun and silly movie comes with a few profound messages and has an unexpected heart: pumping life force throughout the entire movie.
Zac Efron has proven in Neighbors that he is more than just a hot body and pretty face whose only utility is to draw female box office. The film was largely improvised, and Efron was on par with experienced improviser Seth Rogen. Efron is evolving from his High School Musical debut, in Neighbors, despite how he is displayed in the trailer, he plays a complex character who has an interesting and compelling arc. The camaraderie between Efron and Franco is the most believable aspect of the film. In fact, the film captures frat life in a very honest manner: describing the wild, lively exuberant party lifestyle of this generation, and the emptiness and fear of life without the fun while searching for a place in the world.
Bryne, who is not known for comedy, deliveres an energetic and funny performance. In Neighbors she and co-star Seth Rogen play the part of a couple struggling to retain their youth while raising a child. One of the sincerities sprouted by the unexpected heart of the film is the relationship between Bryne and Rogen. Through the silliness of their relationship, at the core is a couple who is afraid that their new child, whom they love completely, will jeopardize their ability to enjoy themselves.
The humor in Neighbors is dirty, crude and succesfuly paired with wit and spontaneity. The unexpectedness at some of the humorous actions make the film both funny and energetic. The method of the characters shouting ludicrous and inane dialogue over each other is amusing at first, but does tend to get overused as the movie goes on. But there are some witty comedic gems in these exchanges.
Despite the silly fun humor, Neighbors has a real profound and unexpected heart about adulthood. The married couple and the frat are juxtaposed not only by their age, but what they fear. Rogen and Bryne fear that the addition of a child into their home will prevent them from having care free fun. Efron’s character only has care-free fun, but even though he hides it as well as he can, he is fearful- or unwilling to acknowledge- his uncertainty of life without his fraternity. A life where he must find his place in the world and become responsible. This is where Efron truly shines in a way he has not in previous work. The vulnerability he shows by avoiding all possible indicators that his time as a young party goer is almost done is believable and compelling. The strife between him and Franco’s character in the film is based on that theme, because Franco’s character is forward thinking and realizes that the fraternity is temporary and any accomplishments he makes there are worthless career-wise. The fraternity is all Efron’s character has, so he believes that they are doing something worthwhile by partying. Neighbors is a sure-fire success for people looking for crude fun humor, but it does offer something more behind the comedy layer that is very unexpected, heart felt and enjoyable.
Opinion By Andres Loubriel