Energetic and raunchy, Neighbors will be remembered for two things. It's the most rollicking frat comedy since Revenge of the Nerds II. (Miss you, Booger.) It's also the project in which our hairiest arrested adolescent, Seth Rogen, finally grows up.
Oh, he's still a stoner who makes Cookie Monster noises when he's having sex with his wife (Rose Byrne). But he has a mortgage, a baby, and a cubicle job. More important, he's the adult who calls the police when the college fraternity that's moved in next door is still roaring in the wee hours.
That ignites hostilities with the Greeks, particularly the alpha Delta (Zac Efron). To keep the movie at a reasonable length, the feud has to keep escalating and escalating long after it's in anybody's interest to retaliate.
Rogen can't gin up chemistry with any of the characters he's supposed to, either family or friends. (His best bud is played by Ike Barinholtz of The Mindy Project.)
But Efron is a revelation as the off-campus king. He somehow makes this dim, misguided ringleader enormously appealing. He's like a young John Stamos, um, Adonis.
Neighbors uses the now-commonplace Judd Apatow formula of leavening gross-out set pieces (Rogen milking a lactating Byrne like a dairy farmer) with sentimental moments. Director Nicholas Stoller (The Five-Year Engagement) handles that tricky mix with great aplomb.
The result is a funny and raucously lewd comedy fueled with enough penis jokes to keep an actual fraternity in stitches for a trimester.
Neighbors *** (out of four stars)
Directed by Nicholas Stoller. With Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Ike Barinholtz. Distributed by Universal Pictures.
Running time: 1 hour, 37 mins.
Parent's guide: R (profanity, nudity, sexual content, violence, alcohol, and drug abuse).
Showing at: Area theaters.