2014 / Director. Nicholas Stoller.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
NEIGHBORS was retitled BAD NEIGHBOURS outside of the USA to avoid confusion with the Australian soap-opera of the same name and while I think that is really lame reason for the switch, I do think that the alternative title works in the movie's favour... the US title suggests that it is, perhaps, a remake of the 1981 John Belushi film. Nevertheless NEIGHBORS is a new frat-house comedy starring Seth Rogan and Zac Efron. It tells the story of a 30-something couple who have moved into their first house with their baby daughter. They are new to the "grown up" game and put their best foot forward to become respectable members of their neighbourhood. When a fraternity moves into the house next door, the couple's newfound tranquility is disrupted by drunken students and wild parties. At first the couple attempt to reason with the kids by acting cool and "hip", only to find themselves sucked into the party, getting wasted (and shirtless). When the consistent nightly parties continue they call the cops, which inevitably leads to a war between the two houses... and there lies the movie's plot. It's a fairly generic structure that we've seen before but thanks to a good script and two solid lead performances NEIGHBORS sits comfortably with some of the best. I am a sucker for house-party movies and also have a soft spot for frat-house films... and so this was the perfect marriage of both for me. The party sequences are fantastic and similarly to PROJECT X the audience is thrown right into the mayhem. With the camera acting as a POV on our behalf, we fully get a sense of the atmosphere and feel as though we're part of the madness. Seth Rogan is perfectly cast and his performance is very self-aware. A decade ago he was the go-to stoner-dude in Hollywood and now he's older, facing a transition of maturity and demographic. He plays both sides of the coin hilariously and knows too well that the joke is on him. He is also supported wonderfully by Rose Byrne so really knows how to deliver an F-bomb (no one swears like an Aussie does). Zac Efron is also perfect. This guy really is proving himself in the movie business and he's managed the arduous transition from child actor for adult performer with ease. With a handful of serious dramatic roles over the last couple of years, it's great to see him in a douchey, arrogant role like this. He nails it. His character is supported by Dave Franco, who offers a reliable balance to Efron's madness. Being a party movie NEIGHBORS needs to be seen at max volume with an open mind and, preferably, with mates.