Neighbors (2014)

“Neighbors” is the sort of movie you start watching passively but quickly engrosses you, and before you know it, you’ve been totally sucked in. It’s not particularly complicated or demanding and that’s part of what works about it: It’s not layered but it’s not stupid, it’s not sophisticated but it’s not offensive, and there are so many hilarious sequences and exchanges along the way that only a curmudgeon could resist it.  Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are perfectly cast as a thirty-something couple settling into parenthood, and while they may not sound like a good pair on paper, they’re absolutely winning and believable on screen. The same can be said of Zac Efron and Dave Franco as their frat boy neighbors, whose hard-partying lifestyle leads to extended stand-offs between the two duos: Efron and Franco are able to play their frat characters with an appropriate amount of jackassery, but the screenplay treats them both like they’re three-dimensional people who happen to be immature, and it’s that verisimilitude that makes the battles between neighbors surprisingly compelling. But most of all and most importantly, it’s just a really, really funny movie, and survives multiple viewings absolutely intact.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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