NEIGHBORS: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, directed by Nicholas Stoller (96 min.)
Mac and Kelly attempt to make friends with Teddy and his brothers on the outset, sharing weed with them as a peace offering. They end up staying all night and partying because, well, they have the baby monitor so its fine to leave your four-month old at home alone. Bonds seem to have been forged and friends made, but pretty soon Teddy doesn't listen to their pleas to keep things down, the cops are called, and Mac and Teddy begin a war of pranks and underhanded schemes against one another that run the length of the film. The sabotages escalate in some funny scenes, some not quite as funny, but all with a great deal of energy and conviction from the actors.
The attempts from Mac and Kelly get elaborate. They try and sabotage the house by flooding the basement because college kids don't have money to fix things like that. But the fraternity brothers raise money by making some plastic molds of certain body parts in a sequence that feels forced and isn't as funny as it might have been on paper. Then they decide to try and turn Teddy and Pete against each other which works, but then it doesn't work or it doesn't really have much of an effect. Mac and Kelly employ their two friends, the main one being Jimmy (Ike Barinholtz), to help take down the fraternity and, naturally, chaos ensues. Jimmy does what any self-respecting idiot sidekick friend should do, and that is get the elephant's share of laughs.
Some things really work in Neighbors, other things are just a little too clumsy or they miss the mark in the humor department. Efron is solid, and even a little sinister as Teddy. And in a nice ironic twist, or perhaps just a sign of the times and the natural progression of age, it is funny to see Seth Rogen struggling to be the responsible adult in a film like this. Rose Byrne has her moments too, although one scene involving her breast milk in the middle of the picture is one of those aforementioned moments that don't really induce laughs so much as unease. That is the gist of Neighbors, which is laugh out loud hilarious when it is focused, but head scratching from time to time. Fortunately, the hits manage to outweigh the misses in the end.