It’s fraternity vs. family in Neighbours and, even though it’s the first entry, it’s going to be hard to top as the best comedy of the summer. Forget what the poster makes you believe: this isn’t a Seth Rogen and Zac Efron showcase. Sure, Zac is adequate in the role as the lead frat boy, his body looks fantastic (as you’ve seen), and he has some great moments…but this flick is all about Rogen and Rose Byrne.
Playing a former party couple that are trying to adjust to their new life as parents, they hit it out of the park. Rogen is his usual funny self, but Byrne matches him laugh-for-laugh in this outrageous comedy. People will look at this as Byrne’s breakthrough, but she’s already been showing stellar comedic chops in Bridesmaids and Get Him To The Greek. After she delivered Emmy-worthy dramatic performances playing stone cold Ellen Parsons on Damages, going toe-to-toe with Glenn Close, and proving to be a worthy scream queen in the Insidious flicks, it’s become very apparent there is nothing Rose can’t do.
The smartest thing the flick does is allow Byrne’s character, Kelly, to be as ridiculous, bold, funny, and raunchy as her husband. This isn’t a comedy where the wife plays the “straight man” to her husband being a bumbling idiot. They even address that in one scene with Mac (Rogen) complaining that Kelly should be more like a woman in a Kevin James movie, and she disagrees and says she can be as irresponsible as him. Kelly gets to have a ton of fun, and Byrne doesn’t disappoint. Byrne actually delivers the one moment that got the audience to burst into applause.
The film also intelligently develops its plot. The setup is simple: a fraternity house moves next door to Mac and Kelly, and while the couple dabbles in partying with the boys, they want to figure out how to get rid of them. There are immediate logical questions that come to mind: Why don’t they call the cops? Why don’t other neighbours complain? Why don’t they move? All these questions are addressed early and swiftly. With those issues out of the way, you can just relax and enjoy all the hijinks.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie have as many penis jokes as this one has, but they all manage to be funny. A joke is never beat into the ground. The film keeps moving at a brisk pace, and smartly keeps its run time to 96 minutes (did you notice that, Judd Aptow?). With all the outrageous behaviour, the film also fits in some truly sweet moments of Mac and Kelly coming to terms with their new stage in life, and even Zac’s party boy Teddy gets to grow up too. It brings some emotional weight to the proceedings.
Add in some of the best reaction shots from a baby you’ve ever seen, and you’ve got a truly hilarious, and surprisingly well-written film, fronted by one of the best male-female comedy duos we’ve seen in a long time. But don’t feel bad that Efron gets his thunder stolen. After That Awkward Moment earlier this year, Zac should just be happy to redeem himself in a great movie.