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Neighbors 6Reel Rating: 3 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout
Released in Theaters: May 9, 2014
Genre: Comedy
Runtime: 96 minutes
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller
Studio: Universal Studios
Cast: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Official Site: Neighbors

SYNOPSIS: New parents Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne go to battle with a fraternity house that moves in next door, led by frat boy Zac Efron.

PHOTO GALLERY: “Neighbors”

REVIEW: I’m trying to figure out why some raunchy movies are good and others are not. As my husband says, “Are there ANY raunchy movies that are good?” Well, yes. There’s “The Hangover,” perhaps one of the best R-rated movies ever made. Other favorites include “Wedding Crashers,” “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” “Bridesmaids,” “Knocked Up,” “The Heat,” and “Superbad.” All good movies with great casts, brilliant writing, and amazing comedic timing.

“Neighbors” isn’t a bad movie, but I wouldn’t put it in the category with those other movies. It’s not a movie that will stand the test of time through cinematic history. There’s not enough “there” there. We’ve got the premise — new parents vs. the frat house next door — but there’s no real coherent story, no sympathetic characters, nothing that ties the whole thing together.

The story follows Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) Radner, new parents to an adorable baby named Stella. Things are going well. They’re married, they own a beautiful house in a nice neighborhood, and they’re on their way to parental happiness in the suburbs.

Until the house next door is bought by a college fraternity led by President Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron). At first, the Radners don’t realize the complications of this situation. They decide to be hip and head out to meet the new neighbors in the hopes of establishing a rapport. They even bring weed. In fact, they end up staying all night at the party (which makes me worry for Stella, but hopefully they’re keeping an ear on their baby monitor above the loud music and other shenanigans).

But things quickly spiral out of control, to the point of the frat boys partying every night and Stella accidentally noshing on a used condom. The Radners call the cops, who show up at their door and reprimand them for calling. And … really?! It’s a quiet neighborhood, and the cops are siding with the frat house? And none of the other neighbors have a problem with it? Ok, whatever.

Then it’s off to the races with the Radners doing something, the frat boys doing something, and hence, one battle after another, yada yada.

There’s a few laughs here and there among the gross-out gags and penis jokes, as well as a more thoughtful look at college life versus adult life. My favorite character is Kelly, which gives Rose Byrne an opportunity to test her comedic chops (and she does have them, and gets to use her native Australian accent). It’s weird seeing Seth Rogen as the adult character here, but he has a few Rogen-ish moments.

As much as I love Zac Efron for branching out into various genres since his days singing and dancing on “High School Musical,” he sort of doesn’t work in this role. Sure, he’s toned and buff and handsome, but he seems a little stilted and anxious. Perhaps a little more swagger might have helped.

If you’re a fan of the raunchy comedies delivered by Rogen and Co., it’s probably worth seeing “Neighbors” in theaters. Otherwise, you could probably wait for it to hit On Demand or Blu-ray.

THE DETAILS:

Sex/Nudity: Most of the jokes revolve around sex, booze, nudity, penises and partying. The Radners attempt to have sex and are interrupted several times. Most of the sex scenes are semi-clothed, although sometimes a butt or back is shown. Couples are shown making out and having sex at frat parties. In one scene, a woman uses a man’s penis as a necklace; male genitals are shown other times (all prosthetics, of course). The frat boys make molds of their penises with the intent to make sex toys and sell them. A frat boy is well-endowed and skilled at showing it. Lactating breasts are shown in an engorged state (not sexual), and the woman’s husband is tasked with alleviating the situation.

Violence/Gore: A few injuries are caused by pranks. A man falls and breaks his leg in the frat house.

Profanity: Just about every line of dialogue is dotted with profanity, including “f*ck,” “sh*t,” “c**t,” “motherf*cker,” “p***y,” “a**hole,” and “d*ck.”

Drugs/Alcohol: The frat parties are rife with drugs and alcohol, and it’s clear there are partiers under the age of 21. Alcohol is consumed, as well as pot, mushrooms, cocaine, and other drugs. A married couple participate in substance use, which causes the breastfeeding mom to get rid of tainted milk.

Which Kids Will Like It? Kids 18 and older who like raunchy comedies.

Will Parents Like It? “Neighbors” has a few funny lines and gags, but overall, it’s not going to stand the test of time when compared with better raunchy comedies.

JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

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