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Movie Review: ‘Neighbors’ twerks like magic

<p>Zac Efron, left, and Dave Franco in a scene from the film, Neighbors."  |  AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Glen Wilson

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Zac Efron, left, and Dave Franco in a scene from the film, "Neighbors."  |  AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Glen Wilson

“Neighbors” mashes together frat-boy antics and suburban peace, works in charm and summons up a raging-good time. Between all the partying and dancing, this film twerks like magic.

“Neighbors” opened May 9 and stars Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as Mac and Kelly Radner, the recently blessed parents of an infant named Stella.
 
In pursuit of keeping their marriage young and fresh, the Radner’s find great resolve in meeting and managing relationships with their neighbors. They don’t live within a neighborhood that is entirely new to hosting people of different, or controversial, backgrounds. But, one day a fraternity sets up shop next door.
 
A group of Delta Psi frat bros led by Teddy and Pete (Zac Efron and Dave Franco) are welcomed to the neighborhood, but not without the Radner’s first warning the brothers of their concern for potential disturbances to the community.
 
All the while, Mac and Kelly experiment with their identity as new parents. The parentally responsible yet polarizing interplay between the couple added a dynamic that allowed the Radners to toy around with and join the fraternity’s festivities.
 
Eventually, the Radners find solitude in their new roles as parents, but the wild antics of the fraternity next door starts conjuring a much different response. 
 
As expected, things get out of hand. Sex is everywhere — in the bedroom, living room and close proximities to baby Stella — and it’s nothing close to romantic. These instances raise a concerned eyebrow early on, but also are a reason the comedy works.
 
Director Nicholas Stoller stole from the cookie jar for this cast. With Hollywood elites, including Efron and Rogen, in close cahoots, as well as others, such as Byrne, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Steve Carrell, the casting bill was flowing with talent.
 
Most notably, Byrne’s portrayal of Kelly proved to be just the trick needed to amplify the comedy between the married couple. Rogen is the funny man, but he adds nothing particularly new. Having her as the female lead balanced laughs between the fraternity and the couple.
 
Even the portrayal of baby Stella had a touch of magic. It was hilariously uncanny how spot on the moments she had on camera were.
 
Character development served as an area of contention. The film’s attempt to juxtapose Pete as a psychology minor, who provides audiences with knowledge about Teddy’s struggle, came too late in the screenplay. When this information is revealed, it isn’t very convincing.
 
As far as reaching audiences with the film’s main premise, “Neighbors” worked on many levels. It touched upon a fairly universal idea where a family complains, more or less, about living next door to neighbors that no one in surrounding area can stand.

Although it’s unlikely that audiences have lived next to a fraternity like the Radners, “Neighbors” will still send moviegoers home with one thing in mind: appreciation for good company.

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