Thursday, May 19, 2016


“Neighbors” (*** OUT OF ****) is a riotous, gross-out, comedy of errors.   

The premise is pretty basic: a young, married couple with an infant daughter is settling into a starter home in the suburbs clash with a college fraternity when the frat takes up residence next door.  Rude and crude jokes fly like diarrhea.  Mac Radner (Seth Rogen of “Knocked Up”) and his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne of “Bridesmaids”) are experiencing their first bloom of parenthood.  Kelly never strays far from her baby monitor, while Mac performs the dutiful chores as the breadwinner.  Although we don’t know specifically what kind of job he has, Mac has a boss that hates to impose himself as an authority figure on his employees.  Meantime, Mac and his newly divorced best friend Jimmy (Ike Barinholtz) like to smoke pot out back during ‘joint file’ breaks.  Mac and Kelly are learning how to orchestrate their lives, particularly time for coitus, around their adorable daughter Stella.  The first scene when Mac and Kelly are humping and bumping in a chair, with Mac sitting and Kelly perched astride him, is amusing.  Stella is watching them intently with her big, round, bright eyes.  Mac gets flustered because Stella is staring at them, and he suggests they turn her around.  No sooner are they back to grinding than Mac notices that Stella has turned around and is eye-balling their every move with infantile fascination.  The trials and tribulations of these young married parents is nothing compared to what awaits them after a college fraternity, Delta Psi Beta, buys the house next door and converts it into a party hardy paradise.  Naturally, Mac and Kelly fear the Greeks will not only keep them awake but also Stella, so they plan to preempt those shenanigans.  Actually, one of my best friends contended with a raucous fraternity that moved next door to them in a residential neighborhood and created pandemonium.  In “Neighbors,” the frats and the young couple repeatedly refer to the distance—ten feet—that lies between them.

Initially, Mac and Kelly, pushing Stella in a stroller, approach the Delta Psi House and introduce themselves to President Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron of “17 Again”), Vice President Pete (David Franco of “21 Jump Street”), and the rest of the kids.  Naturally, everybody finds Stella too cute for words, while the Radners welcome the Deltas but give them subtle warning about keeping it down.  In an earlier scene, Mac and Kelly discussed the various ways they could ask the kids to keep it down.  The first night in the neighborhood, the Deltas stage a blow-out party and invite Mac and Kelly because Teddy is afraid that the couple could create trouble for them.  Mac and Kelly are determined not to behave like ‘old people,’ and they indulge themselves to excess.  Everything goes into the crapper during the second night.  Earlier, Teddy informed them that all they had to do is notify them when the noise got too out of hand.  Teddy doesn’t want them to phone the police.  After several attempts to contact Teddy and company, Mac and Kelly give up and call the police.  Erroneously, they believe that they have made an anonymous call.  They watch as the police, in the form of one cop, Officer Watkins (Hannibal Buress of “The Kings of Summer”), arrives and informs the Deltas that they have having too much fun.  Mac and Kelly watch from their front window and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” director Nicholas Stoller frame the shot from their perspective.  Mac and Kelly are horrified when the cop points in their direction and everybody gravitates to their front door and the young married couple is revealed to be the ones who lodged the complaint.  Mac and Kelly withdraw their complaint and the Deltas proceed to make their life a ‘hell on earth.’  

“Neighbors” bristles with pervasive drug use.  The Deltas smoke, toke, and puff with an outlandish variety of paraphernalia.  They stage parties that are virtuously as rowdy as anything that James Belushi and company held in “National Lampoon’s Animal House.”  Like the “Animal House” Delta Tau Chi Fraternity, The Deltas find themselves in hot water with the equivalent of John Vernon’s Dean Vernon Wormer.  Dean Carol Gladstone (Lisa Kudrow of “Romy and Michele's High School Reunion”) doesn’t scheme as much as Wormer did.  Nevertheless, she puts pressure on the Deltas and runs interference when the Radner complain about the Deltas.  A huge part of the problem is that the Deltas, particularly Teddy and Pete, have established new goals since they moved in next door to the Radners.  They want to make history as previous Deltas did that they can plaster on their fraternity board.  Meaning, they want to take partying to the next level.  All of this sparks a war between the Deltas and the Radners, and the oldsters are determined to run off the youngsters.  At one point, Mac and Kelly decide to sabotage the plumbing next door, and Mac manages to smash a water pipe so that the basement floods.  The Radners figure that if they can destroy the house that the Deltas will have to vacate the premises since they will not be able to pay for the improvements.  Incredibly, the Deltas turn their predicament around.  They hole a dildo yard sale and generate more than enough money to pay for their sabotaged plumbing.  Mac and Kelly decide to attack the Deltas by setting them at each other’s throats.  Kelly comes up with a plan to turn Teddy and Pete against each other by getting Pete to bed down with Teddy’s girlfriend.  Of course, the Deltas strike back at the Radners.  One of the funniest gags in “Neighbors” is the use of automobile air bags to surprise the oldsters.  These scenes are totally off the chart hilarious.  

If you love farcical humor, “Neighbors” is good, mindless, fun.  Seth Rogen has no shame, and the competition between the frats and the young married couple is lively. 

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