Despite widespread misgivings, the Hollywood effort to make Zac Efron into a grown-up movie star continues apace. Said effort suffered a setback in January, when the Efron vehicle That Awkward Moment served primarily to showcase just how many laps he was running behind his co-stars Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan when it came to charm, wit, and overall acting ability.
Efron’s new bite at the apple is Neighbors, a Nick-Stoller-directed comedy in which he plays Teddy, the president of a raucous fraternity that moves in next door to brand-new suburban parents Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne). This convergence creates what we call “situational comedy”: The frat, Delta Psi Beta, wants to host thundering parties late into the night; Mac and Kelly alternate between wishing they were still young enough to attend such parties, and wishing the sonic mayhem would relent long enough for their baby girl to snatch a few lullabies’ worth of sleep.
The customary ways in which Mac and Kelly might remedy this not-unheard-of circumstance are quickly dispensed with. Wouldn’t the Delta Psi’s other neighbors in this affluent residential community also object to their nocturnal debauches? No, in an extremely brief scene, the frat brothers are shown “buying off” the other neighbors by performing household chores with their “slave army” of pledges. Well then, can’t Mac and Kelly call the police? Alas, no to this as well: After the couple’s first, failed attempt at an anonymous report—“We have caller i.d.,” the irritated patrolman explains—the police tell them never to call again. If they want justice, the young parents will have to take it into their own hands.