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Pick Hit: Raunchy R-Rated Comedy 'Neighbors,' Starring Rogen, Byrne & Efron, that Even Critics Love (RED BAND TRAILER)

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio | Thompson on Hollywood May 7, 2014 at 12:44PM

Universal Pictures smartly debuted "Neighbors," a raunchy, R-rated comedy starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron as the titular domestic warmongers, at SXSW 2014, where it picked up great word-of-mouth from festival-goers and critics alike. But the best thing in the movie is Rose Byrne. The films opens May 9. Read review, roundup and see Red Band trailer here.

The Hollywood Reporter writes:

"Neighbors" 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 — even if the middle-class banality that quashes it isn't everyone's ideal of adulthood. If a shirtless Zac Efron sells tickets, the sight of him being bested by proudly flabby Seth Rogen may sell just as many. Isn't it strange to see Seth Rogen becoming a model for the young American grown-up?

Variety praises Efron's "credible and intriguing" performance:

Lewder, weirder, louder, leaner, meaner and more winningly stupid than anything its director Nicholas Stoller and star Seth Rogen have ever been involved with before, frat comedy "Neighbors" boasts an almost oppressive volume of outrageous gags, and provided that audiences don't mind the lack of anything resembling a coherent story arc, its commercial potential ought to be enormous. 

HitFix says it's a new comedy classic:

"Neighbors" is a comedy people will return to often, and I would hope it leads to much more work for the writers. Stoller is already in demand, but I think this is going to make people reassess just how good he really is. What we saw tonight is technically a work-in-progress, but it felt very polished already. I may have a slightly sore throat as I head to bed tonight, but it's sore from laughing. One of the highest compliments I can pay to any film is to say I can't wait to see them again, and that is absolutely true of "Neighbors."

Film School Rejects laughed their heads off:

The physical comedy and sight gags are well choreographed, but the film doesn't lean too heavily on jackassery for its laughs. Nor does it treat the frat boys solely as adversaries, giving us scenes from Teddy and Pete's point of view to flesh them out (and "flesh" is definitely the right word). It would be easy in a comedy like this to do nothing but make fun of frat boys, but "Neighbors" doesn't take the easy way out.

The Playlist loves Rose Byrne:

Efron and Rogen are flanked by a ridiculously terrific supporting cast, including Ike Barinholtz as Rogen's best friend, Lisa Kudrow as the dean of the frat's college, "Submarine" star Craig Roberts as a pledge known as "Assjuice" and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as another fraternity brother (one whose, um, member is legendarily huge). But the breakthrough performance in the movie, and the one that took tonight's SXSW screening by storm, is Rose Byrne. 

This article is related to: Neighbors, Seth Rogen, Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Reviews, Festivals, SXSW, South By Southwest Film Conference and Festival (SXSW)

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.