“The Neighbors” review: A surprisingly appealing film about growing up


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Passing gas, penis jokes, exchanging of bodily fluids; “Neighbors” has all the making of a Seth Rogen film, but this time, it is surprisingly more than that.

Going into the movie, I expected a frat boy cliche, sophomoric and crass comedy, but I quickly found myself dumbfounded by the depth of the plot, in addition to the funny and well rounded acting of the actors involved. No, the boobs, cannabis and used condoms aren’t the star of this vehicle, it is the actors and the writing.

Mac Radner, played by the always humorous Seth Rogen, this is as close to a stand-up man that Rogen will play, and his wife, acted by the cute Rose Byrne, move into a picturesque neighborhood with their infant daughter.

All seems normal, to the point of the doldrums of everyday suburban living. But the tranquility doesn’t last. A fraternity, Delta Psi, moves next door and, of course, hard partying ensues.

The president of the frat, Teddy (Zac Efron) and his vice president Pete (Dave Franco) are on a mission of throwing the biggest, most epic party ever to be able to put their picture on a plaque commemorating the memorable parties of members past. And naturally, that’s where the quaint family couple clash with the frat boys. And of course, the ensuing shenanigans and hilarity.

Expect some gross out, potty humor: farting into faces, licking crap, etc. Frat boy humor abound as well: hot housing, yes, hot housing, during a party, raising money by selling condoms of each members actual junk size. It’s plenty of “in your face” humor. But all of it is not in vain of a transparent plot.

The actors all do great jobs conveying their roles and agenda. Rogen and Byrne, at first, try to be cool then slowly devolve to their hatred of the fraternity and are hellbent on getting rid of them.

Efron is endearing in his role. You can’t really hate his character; he’s not evil, he just wants to have fun and others to have fun as well. His relationship with Franco’s character is a surprisingly strong emotional gravity. Teddy’s support of his friend, after all “Bros before hoes,” and chemistry is a close second, to that of Rogen and Byrne’s. McLovin, err, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Craig Roberts, funny in his short spotlight, and Lisa Kudrow round out this effective cast.

Summer is upon us, and there aren’t many better options to kick off the season than the salacious and laugh out loud “Neighbors.” There’s no need to feel guilty afterwards.