Who knew Zac Efron had it in him? A few years ago, no one would have taken the High School Musical heartthrob seriously as anything other than a Disney kid, but my oh my, how times have changed. In the very, very funny Neighbors, he’s a revelation, nailing every nuance of college bad boy Teddy, from his larger-than-life frat persona to the melancholy of the rudderless, unprepared college senior lying just beneath.
He’s not the comedy’s only strength, however. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play a couple with a daughter who attempt to take down the rowdy frat that moves in next door, with escalating stakes and unexpected consequences for both sides. Both stars earn big laughs with their commitment to even the most raunchy elements of Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien’s often hilarious (though not impeccable) script.
Byrne in particular proves to be one of the most applaudably game actresses in Hollywood today, and her restless wife Kelly emerges as Neighbors‘ comedic secret weapon as a result (just check out her riotous scheme to “put hoes before bros” and force the frat to implode). Really, though, the entire supporting cast nails it, from Dave Franco’s earnest Pete, Teddy’s right-hand man, to Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s well-endowed Scoonie and Ike Barinholtz’s hapless divorcé Jimmy.
It’s a good thing that the performances are so solid, too – in typical Nicholas Stoller fashion, Neighbors is messily constructed, with some plot points left unresolved and jokes falling flat. And the over-the-top climax annihilates any trace of credibility in exchange for an impressive, though eventually tiring barrage of immoderate raunch. Without the fine acting all around, the film wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable a summer trifle.
Now that the leaves are changing, it’s clear that Neighbors was the comedy of this past summer. And though it’s not flawless, any comedy that features as many terrific performances as this one and also lands more than a fair share of gut-busting punchlines is alright in my book.
Neighbors‘ 1080p video transfer is another typically strong release from Universal Studios. With a warm, lively color to each frame, particularly in the party scenes, it’s a satisfying watch. Sharp detail throughout and accurate skin-tones also make up what is a strong, essentially flawless transfer.
Universal’s 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is also terrifically implemented, with crystal-clear dialogue, pounding party music and other background sounds coming together into an absorbing and gratifying listen.
In terms of special features, Neighbors is unfortunately lacking, with only a few brief featurettes and deleted scenes reels included on the Blu-Ray:
- An Unlikely Pair
- The Frat
- Partying with the Neighbors
- Deleted/Alternate Scenes
- On the Set With…
- Alternate Opening
- Gag Reel
There’s not much here, but “An Unlikely Pair” is an interesting watch, discussing Efron’s involvement in the project and how his performance improved Neighbors from the perspective of the cast and crew. “The Frat,” as its title suggests, covers the members of Delta Psi and explores the relationships between the actors playing them. “Partying with the Neighbors” is even more standard EPK stuff than the preceding two featurettes. There are a few laughs, but not many, to be found in the deleted/alternate scenes, alternate opening, line-o-rama and gag reel, while “On the Set With…” does exactly what its title implies, taking viewers inside the shoot.
Despite the lack of insightful extras, the Neighbors Blu-Ray offers a superior video/audio experience, and the film itself comes highly recommended. Zac Efron, in one of his most refreshingly adult and fun performances, is absolutely fantastic to watch, and Neighbors as a whole often operates on his level, with strong work from Rose Byrne, Seth Rogen, Dave Franco and the other supporting stars. And though it’s not without its faults, the script aims for big laughs and frequently hits its mark, resulting in one of the year’s funniest comedies.
Raunchy, surprisingly heartfelt and packed with terrific performances, Neighbors is one of the year's best comedies.