Frat comedy "Neighbors" hits the mark

The trend in Hollywood college flicks has traditionally been to glorify the partying and debauchery of fraternities, highlighting raunchy sex scenes and vulgar language. Screen time is rarely given to the concerns of life after school, what the future holds for frat “brothers,” or if any part of the fraternal traditions are actually meaningful.

Universal Picture’s Neighbors manages to break this trend and focus on both simultaneously. The film centers on a newlyweds Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) Radner, who have just purchased their first home together for themselves and their newly born baby girl.

Early in the film, the couple is seen struggling to adapt to their new lives as parents, reluctantly facing the fact that they can no longer go out and party whenever they feel like it.

This is made all the more difficult when the new tenants next door turn out to be the Delta Psi fraternity, headed by Frat President Teddy (Zac Efron) and Vice President Pete (Dave Franco).

In a hilarious early scene, Mac and Kelly attempt to befriend the frat, offering them joints and a night of outrageous partying.

But soon, the partying gets out of hand, and tensions began to run high the young couple and the neighboring fraternity. Through a series of hilarious back and forth pranks and battles, the Radners struggle to get the Delta Psi’s expelled from the University.

Though most of the jokes are crass, as to be expected from a Seth Rogen-fronted comedy about frat boys, the film’s heart is omnipresent. The theme of love is at the center of the film, not only between the Radners trying to protect their child, but also the brotherly bond shared between the Delta Psis.

What really sets Neighbors apart from other college films, such as Animal House or Van Wilder, is that it not only focuses on the outlandish partying, but also life after college and what the relationships forged in fraternities actually mean outside of school.

Franco, who truly shines in his role as studious frat boy Peter, is the shining example of a great student with an active social life. Efron’s Teddy is his fool, a young man stuck solely in the realms of the fraternity, afraid to move on once the semester ends.

At the center of it all, though, is the relationship between Rogen and Byrne. Rogen, who has perfected the role of the everyman stoner with a heart of gold, is hilarious and likeable as always, but it is Byrne, playing a young mom genuinely struggling with leaving her past behind, who really steals the film. She hits every note perfectly and effortlessly, and hopefully audiences will see her doing more comedic work in the future.

All in all, Neighbors is a hilarious film that offers a nostalgic look back at college without the rose-colored lens. Its lines are quotable, its characters are relatable, and its heartfelt message is both surprisingly poignant and sincerely touching.