Despite sincere efforts from its cast. Seth Rogen (Mac Radner), Rose Byrne (Kelly Radner), Zac Efron (Teddy Sanders) and Dave Franco (Pete) all do what they can to rise above the material.
But the material from writers Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien is so uneven that none of the actors can improve it. Consider Mac and Kelly’s pillow conversation, the one just before they start eating pizza with ranch sauce. This scene is meant to be simultaneously funny and dramatic, like much of Neighbors, to show important characterization at the same time it makes us laugh, but the moment rings false. Because none of the preceding events support it; we haven’t seen the characters’ behavior match their dialogue, at any point, and certainly not in the scenes immediately preceding it.
Therein is Neighbors biggest flaw. Its characters and their supposed personalities often play third or fourth fiddle to bawdy humor.
Humor which rapidly grows stale. One penis joke can be funny. Even the fifth might be comedic, but by the fifteenth occurrence, the joke wears thin. Such is modus operandi for Neighbors’ comedy.
It doesn’t help that the plot begins ridiculous and becomes more so with each new development. Start with the basic premise: out of an entire, quaint neighborhood populated by mostly middle aged individuals, only one couple is offended by the riotous parties Teddy and Pete throw. Seriously?
Obviously, Neighbors is a comedy, which means we ought be able to accept preposterousness. Here we cannot. Probably because the primary characters lack enough depth to make us care about them. Mac and Kelly are archetypal late-twenty-somethings reluctant to accept a quiet life. Teddy is a one-note irresponsible child scared to lose his glory days.
Only Pete is given multiple layers, but he’s the fourth most important character so cannot save the picture.
In short, Neighbors is not particularly funny, a handful of laughs notwithstanding. And it is even less effective dramatically. This is not a good film.