We've come a long way since Animal House and that's not necessarily a good thing. In Neighbors, starring Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as a young married couple with a baby, an out-of-control frat similar to Delta House in the 1978 college comedy goes toe-to-toe with the distraught parents, who simply want Delta Psi Beta to "keep it down." So rather than two frats competing for campus supremacy, it's the nosy neighbors, and ultimately a stern dean, played by Lisa Kudrow, who battle it out with the Delta boys, led by Zac Efron and Dave Franco.
Rogen has crossed over from the irresponsible stoner who just wants to watch porn in Knocked Up to a father attempting to figure it out in Neighbors. Both are rom-cons featuring women who would generally not give a glance at their pudgy co-star, and that's part of the fun of these story lines. He and Byrne are Mac and Kelly Radner in Nicholas Stoller's revenge comedy.
At first they try to be cool by offering weed in exchange for Delta Psi's cooperation. That lasts about as long as it takes to spark it up. Marc gobbles mushrooms and everyone parties, but the next day when it doesn't stop, Mac and Kelly begin plotting how to shut them down. It's one crazy plan after the other.
The penultimate party scene, complete with the house decorated with a huge neon pot leaf, is one for the ages. But when it gets busted, Delta Psi's fate's even worse than double secret probation.
While Rogen generally guffaws his way through Neighbors, Byrne really shines as his feisty better half. Efron as dimwitted hunk Teddy plays to type. Franco's staccato delivery as Pete reminds of his brother, James.
In the 1981 dark comedy Neighbors, starring Blues Brothers John Belushi and Dan Akyroyd as next-door combatants, the rivals eventually grow to like each other. This also happens in the new Neighbors. But there's no transformation or a greater understanding of life. It's merely a victory, and a hollow one at that.
Neighbors has grossed $150 million since opening in theaters May 9. It's the 18th top-grossing film in 2014.