Is it me, or has Zac Efron quietly been having a McConaugheyssance all his own? I remember back in the day (yes I’m that old) when his overly coifed hair reflected light in High School Musical before he tried to get serious while hopping on a Nicholas Sparks bandwagon. And unlike McConaughey, Efron’s redemption really came from finally sinking his pearly white teeth into something silly.
Neighbors easily went down as my favourite film of his, and not just because the competition was slim (except for the wonderful 17 Again). Maybe it’s because paired with Seth Rogen the two managed to find the perfect balance between wit and grossness. Or maybe it’s because this was a bromance movie that managed to hit the sweet spot of male bonding without turning the girlfriend into a fun-killing witch.
That’s basically what sold me on Neighbors as a frat film I’m going to feel okay about tucking in with a couple more times this winter. Rose Byrne could have easily been turned into Alison from Knocked Up, especially when she was the one that got the competition between the new parents and the frat house going when she insisted her husband call the cops on a party. But by the time she was telling Rogen’s Mac off for trying to turn her into a shrew, I felt a lot better knowing this movie was aware of the problems that have been keeping me from really enjoying most of Rogen’s comedies.
Sure, we still went through the usual break up but we also saw Kelly and Mac working as a team to take out the frat house once war was declared (and when Kelly needed some, er, help pumping). And even when it came to their recently divorced friends, no one was laying down the law about having to choose between them. The fact that I wasn’t once again cursing another stereotypical angry girlfriend made it more than easy for me to sit through the apparently necessary dildo jokes and a bros over you knows riff between Efron’s Teddy and his bestie Pete (Franco’s brother Dave) that went on way too long. And aside from those two moments, I have to give Neighbors plenty of credit for not sinking to some more standard lows—meaning that when I’m holed up all winter looking for a comedy, I’ll be coming back to this one.