Rogen and Efron make an interesting pair of Neighbors

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Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) dress up in party gear and venture to their neighbor’s fraternity house to sabotage a noisy party. Rogen and Efron co-star as neighbors at war in this hilarious summer comedy.

Mike Colonna, Staff Writer

Seth Rogen and Zac Efron are not a popularly established dynamic duo in cinema.  Between Rogen’s arsenal of stoner comedy and Efron’s history of Disney feel-goods, it is hard to fathom that the two could ever be casted in the same movie and have any sort of chemistry—but they do in Neighbors, and the best part is, it works.  In fact, their on-again, off-again “bromance” is just one of many highlights in this laugh-out-loud comedy that hilariously kicks off this year’s batch of summer movies.

For those who have not been caught up in the hype, Neighbors follows young couple Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) as they move into a shiny new house in the suburbs with their toddler daughter.  At first enchanted and excited to start their new adult lives, they soon run into trouble (and shenanigans) when a party-fueled and particularly noisy fraternity—Delta Psi Beta—moves in next door, headed by Teddy (Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco).  What begins as a peaceful request by Mac and his wife to “keep it down” soon evolves into an all-out war between the two houses with hysterically elaborate schemes ensuing.

What makes Neighbors work is the perfectly crafted balance of the movie’s leads.  Rogen and Byrne are goofy and clumsy as the “neighbors who want quiet but also want to stay cool and hip,” and the cheesy, awkward adult humor they bring to the table is juxtaposed by Efron and Franco’s more brash, overly-exaggerated frat humor.

Rogen has never been in a role demanding of such innocence and naivety (although he does take his fair share of drugs in the role), nor has Efron been so loud and ridiculous.  Both actors clearly took a step out of their usual roles and tried something new, and it paid off in spades.

On top of the goofy performances, Neighbors is also elevated by its surprising thoughtfulness and beating heart.  Through Mac and Kelly, the movie explores what it truly means to be an adult, and provides a stunningly relatable portrait of a couple that just does not want to grow up, misses the parties of youth, and resents the responsibilities of parenthood.  Even the outrageous frat tugs at the heartstrings, taking a look at the meaningless ways college kids will stave off their anxieties and fears about eminent adulthood.  Efron’s Teddy gets a surprising amount of depth in this vein, seeing his future in Mac, not liking what he sees, and resorting to ridiculous parties to avoid it.

All in all, Neighbors is a great way to start off the summer.  Its unlikely chemistry between Efron and Rogen is consistent, works, and, most importantly, is funny.  The surprising amount of depth in the movie elevates it above the rest, and the film’s leads explored new territory in their acting careers; Efron especially seems ready to finally shed Troy Bolton and branch out to audiences beyond the tween girls drooling over his shirtless body on the TV screen.  It is really exciting when a former Disney star does that, and does it successfully.  Hopefully audiences will get to see more movies like Neighbors during his career.