'Neighbors': What the Critics Are Saying

Neighbors, out Friday, is the first R-rated comedy of the season, and revolves around a young couple with a baby who live next door to a frat house. The Nicholas Stoller film stars Zac Efron, Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco and Lisa Kudrow, and kicked off its Mother's Day weekend with a strong $2.56 million on Thursday. 

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Read what top critics are saying about Neighbors:

The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore called it "very funny at the outset and escalating steadily for most of its brisk running time," and said it "represents a more real-world point of view than Animal House and Old School, one that understands frat-boy excess not as a joyous manifestation of Bacchanalian life-force, but as a pointless, retrograde enterprise that should be stomped mercilessly." Of the actors, "Efron is credibly hateful," "Byrne gets more freedom than she often does, stealing scenes with last-ditch deviousness" and "Kudrow shines in a couple of scenes as the exasperated college dean."

A.O. Scott of The New York Times noted that "Neighbors is not a great film and does not really aspire to be. It is more a status report on mainstream American movie comedy, operating in a sweet spot between the friendly and the nasty, and not straining to be daring, obnoxious or even especially original." Yet regarding the gray area between adolescence and adulthood, "it fuses romantic traditionalism with new-school naughtiness and imagines marriage not as a prison but as a shared playground ... the insightful glimmers matter to the film’s credibility, but they also provide a scaffolding of sincerity for the abundant drug-, sex- and body-based humor."

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The  Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey said that "despite a strain of sweetness and considerable smarts, the film is a bit like Animal House on steroids -- and with penis molds. If crude and lewd offend, beware." Still, "the script by Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O'Brien is a clever one," and Stoller's "emotionality" -- also infused into his other films, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek -- shines in the R-rated comedy: "By allowing sensitivity to work its way into so many nooks and crannies of Neighbors, including the frat house, Stoller might be changing the balance of this universe," which Judd Apatow has championed.

Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips wrote of the film, "One part smart, one part stupid and three parts jokes about body parts, the extremely raunchy Neighbors is a strange success story." He gave the film three stars. While he would've rather had Efron play witty instead of actually mean, "Rogen and Byrne prove to be excellent scene partners. The fledgling family unit at the heart of Neighbors is sunny insecurity incarnate."

Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post gave the comedy two stars for being "a shaggy, baggy collegiate comedy that is less a coherent movie than a loosely assembled series of lewd jokes and punishing slapstick routines," and warned that "viewers must slog through all manner of crude, coarse, often lazily choreographed bits that feel rote and barely warmed-over."

Email: Ashley.Lee@THR.com
Twitter: @cashleelee

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