Neighbors (R)

8 Stars

In a comedy, it’s quite rare the female lead is just as funny as their male counterpart.

The only other example is Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd in This is 40.

But in Neighbors, Rose Byrne as Kelly Radner, is just as funny, if not funnier, than Seth Rogen as Mac Radner.

The recent trend in Hollywood is to release multiple comedies during the summer season. Most of the time, the general public responds to one funny movie in particular, and that comedic blockbuster is what’s remembered.

Last year, the hit of the summer was This is the End, in 2012 it was Ted, in 2011 it was Bridesmaids, in 2010 it was Get Him to the Greek, in 2009 it was The Hangover.

And, every year, another funny comedy is overshadowed by the success of the box office hit. Last year’s We’re the Millers, 2012’s 21 Jump Street, 2011’s Horrible Bosses, and 2010’s Hot Tub Time Machine.

’09 was a rough year, but ’08 makes up for it with some serious winners. Step Brothers is the most fondly remembered of that year, but let’s not forget Pineapple Express and Zack and Miri Make a Porno. (I’m a sucker for anything with Craig Robinson.)

Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West comes out May 30, so it’ll be interesting to see which movie ends up overshadowing the other.

Because Neighbors is great!

With an awesome cast, subject material that is both relatable and timely, and a hysterical script; director Nicholas Stoller’s got himself another winner here, folks.

Zac Efron’s performance in Neighbors is fantastic. He really sells it.

Oftentimes, like with Barbra Streisand in The Guilt Trip, a daring cameo can fall short. In Barbra’s case, her performance feels very artificial; like it’s been jammed into a comedy for outrageous effect. And unfortunately, her acting abilities just aren’t meant for making the modern audience laugh.

But Zac pulls it off; he plays a compelling and likable character, whom the audience feels compassion for. Not once does he feel out of place or miscast. There isn’t a single slip-up in terms of acting performance and he fits in quite well leading alongside Seth Rogen.

Rogen, for me, is always hilarious. But whether you like him or not, there’s plenty of other stuff to laugh at. Did I mention how funny Rose Byrne is?

I like that Dave Franco. He’s great in this movie, and is turning into quite a talented actor.

Neighbors earns its ‘R’ rating through a bevy of phallic jokes.

One of the film’s high-points is the sheer number of comedic performances it gets out of a cast of knowns and unknowns alike.

A young black actor, Jerrod Carmichael, plays a frat boy named Garf. His scene-stealing hilarious moments are numerous, and I’ve never heard of him before. But I wouldn’t mind seeing a lot more Carmichael in the future.

There are particular sequences worthy of note.

The first is a montage of period pieces; three scenes with different styles of shooting, depicting moments in the fraternity’s history. Each is led by cameos from comedic favorites, including the guys from Lonely Island, the Workaholics trio, and Jake Johnson from New Girl.

The other is reflective of an overall theme in Neighbors. It’s a movie for major cinephiles because there are tons of films references throughout.

The ‘Robert De Niro’ party is one of the most uproarious moments and has the entire theater rollicking with laughter.

One funny thing is the cameo by Jason Mantzoukas (as Dr. Theodorakis). He’s well-known as Rafi on FX’s The League. His character in Neighbors utilizes the same gag as the misleading doctor in Arrested Development. A similar joke appears in Family Guy and 30 Rock.

A final matter worth mentioning are the modern issues it offers commentary on. Lisa Kudrow has one of the funniest cameos as Dean Carol Gladstone, and all she’s concerned with are newspaper headlines.

In several ways, the movie makes a compelling argument for the harmlessness of fraternities. As of late, much to-do has been made over the evils of frat life. It’s nice to see somebody finally arguing for the other side.

Overall, Neighbors is a riotous batch of fresh laughs from a combination of reliable comedic mainstays and surprisingly proficient newcomers.

Whether it’s overshadowed by A Million Ways to Die in the West in a few weeks is of little concern.

For the time being, just know Neighbors is worth a trip to the theater!

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