NEIGHBORS // Unlike Adam Sandler, who, as he has gotten older, has gone from raunchy comedies to watered down family comedies, Seth Rogen continues to take steps deeper and deeper into the world of dirty comedies. As Mac, who is a loving husband to Kelly (Rose Byrne) and caring father to their little baby, Rogen pulls off this nice balance between competent adult and immature man-child thrown into an adult role. He smokes weed with his best friend during breaks at work and bargains with his wife on whether to take their baby to a rave, but when a fraternity lead by Teddy (Zac Efron) moves in next door and starts keeping little Stella (Elise and Zoey Vargas) awake at night, the papa bear comes out. What follows is a battle between different generations complete with broken water mains, huge hot boxing parties, and one of the most hilarious running gags in recent memory involving stolen automobile airbags. Bringing the likes of “Animal House” and “Old School” to the current generations, “Neighbors” is a perfect blend of physical and raunchy comedy.

Director Nicholas Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, “Get Him To The Greek”) continues his successful foray in bawdy features while also delving into both new and old themes, like male bonding, healthy and unhealthy marriages, and revenge and how far is too far. “Neighbors” never goes where you think it is going, often remaining relentless in that it never quite pays off with feel good moments one expects from this type of comedy. Although there is eventually closure between Mac and Teddy, the idea that anyone learned from the situation is definitely not apparent. Filling out the cast is Dave Franco as Teddy’s righthand man Pete, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the well endowed Scoonie, and Ike Barinholtz, who plays Mac’s coworker and scheming best friend Jimmy. Compared to recent raunchy comedies like “Let’s Be Cops” and “Anchorman 2”, Stoller’s latest film is actually a step above the rest, landing in the middle of the spectrum, where it does not quite claim classic status but produces enough consistent laughs to evoke multiple viewings.

[Directed by Nicholas Stoller] [R] [97 min] [9 May 2014]   08four-stars

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