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'Neighbors' a riotously funny movie

5/13/2014

There are many different types of laughter. There's the chortle, the giggle, the gut-buster, the spit-take and so on. I'm very happy to report that "Neighbors," a film about a fraternity that moves in next door to a 30-something couple with a baby, packs nearly every type of laughter there is. The laughs per minute is nearly off the scale. It was very common that I was still experiencing the follow-up giggle after a foot-stomping outburst when the next joke landed like a hurricane.

There are many different types of laughter. There's the chortle, the giggle, the gut-buster, the spit-take and so on. I'm very happy to report that "Neighbors," a film about a fraternity that moves in next door to a 30-something couple with a baby, packs nearly every type of laughter there is. The laughs per minute is nearly off the scale. It was very common that I was still experiencing the follow-up giggle after a foot-stomping outburst when the next joke landed like a hurricane.

There is raw comedy here that is impossible to ignore. Further to that, stars Seth Rogen and Zac Efron, who are both very funny in their own rights, play well with, and against, each other. The supporting cast, most notably Dave Franco, is well-placed, and well-utilized.

"Neighbors" has its priorities straight. It knows it's supposed to be a raunchy, R-rated comedy intended to deliver frequent and high-quality laughs, and it accomplishes just that. However, it does have some dramatic payoff but, thankfully, it is subsidiary to gross-out gags and situational humor alike. Too often, modern comedies overthink the plot to the point where it becomes a hinderance rather than a spring board.

For all of it's accomplishments, "Neighbors" fails to receive top marks. I can't exactly put my finger on it, but it felt like it was missing a crucial X-factor to reach legend status. Zac Efron was great as a frat president, but it felt like his comedic talent was not used to its fullest potential. Furthermore, the "prank war" that is very common in this type of movie didn't have enough back-and-forth, which feels like a missed opportunity.

In the grand scheme of things, I only have minor complaints. "Neighbors" is a riot and not to be missed if you enjoy raunchy comedy.

5 of 6 stars

James Gerstner works at Fort Hays State University.