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IN SHORT: Been there. Done that.. [Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout . 96 minutes]
Every generation since the one who cackled maniacally through their marijuana induced stupor while watching Animal House back in 1979 ... that would be Cranky's gen ... has had their personal movie epiphany. Well, maybe fifteen or twenty epiphanies on, screenwriters Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien had the brilliant idea of writing the story of the normal family next door to the animal house. That family would Mac Radner (Seth Rogen), his not-exactly-blushing bride Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) and their diaper clad bundle of joy, Stella (Elise Vargas and Zoey Vargas). He works in something that looks like a newborn corporation or law firm. She has taken time off to be a mom. They've just spent their last penny on a starter Dream House. All is well and good in their Life.
Well, all would be well and good in their Life if their next door neighbor house had been sold to the couple with baby who they'd met when the other couple scouted the location. [There's a politically correct joke that goes here that we won't spoil except that, if you have an average film intelligence, you can probably guess who in no more than two guesses. In the meantime, all of their still single friends are insistent that all things can remain status quo and that Mac and Kelly's dearly loved days of clubbing all night are not behind them. The best joke of the First Act involves getting baby Stella prepped for her Baby's First Rave.
The rest of the Act sets up the real story, which is that Life Isn't Good, for the starter house happens to be on [or right next to] a college campus . . . why Mr. and Mrs. Radner would buy a house anywheres near a college campus is beyond yours Cranky. Why? Because all college campuses have places called "fraternity" houses -- the star of this story is called Delta Psi Beta (to make things simple, only two or three of the house members count: president Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), his smarter veep, Pete (Dave Franco) and a tech weenie named Scoonie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). For those new to this planet, it is a given that in all movies involving a fraternity, said fraternity and all its residents and guests like to party loudly, well into the night.
Just as Mac and Kelly used to do.
Just like Mac and Kelly try to do again, when the fratboys invite the neighbors in to stay and party. , Kelly has her baby monitor and, as long as she stays within wi-fi range she can party like it's, uh, whatever her equivalent of 1999 was. A wonderful time is had by all. Problem is, the frat parties hard every single night of the week. "We love the frat" becomes "we hate the frat" in a blink of an eye ... and that story could have followed the well-established template. Credit the abovenamed writers for not going that route.
Sure, the Radners want to destroy the frat. Subversively helping them to throw the biggest party of all time -- there is a very brief faux documentary of great moments in frat partying early in the flick -- is the Radner's grand plan. If the party is rowdy enough to make a headline in the local paper, the frat will be closed by order of the Dean (Lisa Kudrow - blink and you'll miss her) who pays no attention to the world outside her window. But if it's in the newspaper, then it is real . . .!
Neighbors has has some genius moments during the generic battles between good (adults) and evil (frat boys) that ensue. Some are very funny. Many involve a part of the male anatomy that we can't write about on this page since we're family friendly. And, needless to say, four letter words fly fast and furiously.
Neighbors is fine for all readers who haven't been watching this genre of movie since it was created back in 1979. We'll get right to the point and say that we got three or four bellylaughs from the film, enough to keep us in a good mood, and more than enough that we chuckled at all the other less funny gags in the film. So, yes, we liked it in the disposable dateflick way that we like to label these kind of films.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Neighbors, he would have paid . . .
For those readers who haven't passed, say, thirty, Neighbors will probably make you laugh until it hurts. We, who have thirty years exposure to films like this, would summarize the film this way: it delivered more than enough belly laugs to make yours Cranky generally happy. That we are old enough to be distracted by the presence of Lisa Kudrow in what is essentially a cameo role indicates that we werent laughing quite hard enough.
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