Comedy is about timing. It is also about understanding your surroundings. These are two aspects in which Neighbors excels at. It knows when to hit you when you least expect it. Whether it is a raunchy dick joke or a hidden airbag, director Nicolas Stoller know when to push the button, possibly with a dildo. Stoller’s comedy track record is actually pretty impressive. Under his belt are Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him To The Greek, and The Five-Year Engagement. These films all came out two years apart, and now, two years later is Neighbors.
The biggest reason this film works is the dynamic duo of Seth Rogan and Zac Efron. Rogan is the yin to Efron’s yang, the beer belly to six pack. The film hilariously plays off this stark difference in body shapes to perfection. For every shot of Efron’s trim, hairless physique, the audience gets a glimpse at Rogan’s plumpness, pale skin, and hairy chest. That kind of contrast will never stop being funny.
But there are plenty of other reasons this film works, other than the two leads. How about Rose Byrne!? She plays Rogan’s wife and is just as much a part of the comedic ensemble as Efron and Rogan. She isn’t there to be the stereotypical wife in a movie like this. One who pleads for her husband to stop every chance she gets. No. She wants in. She wants to comply in the chaos and hilarity ensues.
Perhaps the most uproarious moment is when Byrne kisses a female partier. It was staged so wonderfully and Stoller executed it with comedic perfection and cut perfectly to a shocked Rogan, who cannot believe his wife is making out with a hot co-ed. It was a moment that you really didn’t see coming, and that is comedy. That, and a massive penis wrapped around a women’s neck as a “choker collar.”
And no comedy is complete without a solid supporting cast. Dave Franco plays a perfect counterpart to Efron’s bruting masculinity, as Franco is more self-aware and a little less, um, perfect looking guy. Then there’s Ike Barinholtz, who plays a co-worker/friend of Rogan. His role increases midway through the film, which provides a nice boost to the laughs. Also, finally-getting-famous Hanibal Buress also appears in this film as an odd and possibly homosexual/possibly pedophile police officer. Whatever has was, it was great.
And lets not forget the cameo appearances by the crews of The Lonely Island and Workaholics, which show how self aware the casting of this movie was, as they knew the audience they were attracting. And the following cameos as well: Jake Johnson, Lisa Kudrow, and Jason Mantzoukas (Rafi from The League). Funny movies with funny, smart parts for funny people make funny movies even funnier.
The laughs just keep coming in this movie. It may rely too heavily on physical gags, so perhaps the eventual re-watch value won’t be as high for, let’s say, This Is The End, last year’s raunchiest comedy, which brought the etiquette of the dick joke to a whole new stratosphere., but Neighbors is sure to make you laugh and cringe and laugh some more.