Weekend Movies: ‘Neighbors’ Starring Zac Efron and Seth Rogen

[Sidebar Confession: I don't really get Zac Efron. He's a decent if ungreat actor but my fellow gays are so obsessive about him that I sometimes worry they haven't noticed that the vast majority of young actors are gorgeous and in good physical shape. We can set our sights a little higher to include enormous talent in the mix, too! I'm just saying but I'm not minding. Just a few short years ago the people were obsessing over Taylor Lautner so… UPGRADE.] 

Needless to say a fraternity next door is no good for a young family just starting out and a war between the houses soon escalates. Mac and Kelly try to make nice at first with hilariously awkward 'we're still cool' chill introductions. Some of the movie's best jokes are slightly heightened but relatable generational splits like Mac & Kelly's annoyance when the fratboys host a Robert De Niro party and keep getting the movie references wrong. Not that you should call them jokes, though. For better and worse Neighbors is totally a product of its time. Like most comedies today, the strength isn't in the writing or "jokes" but in the ability of actors to riff casually and improvisationally on basic situations and topics. (This is easy to spot in movies now. Both of Neighbors trailers are filled with funny lines that aren't in the movie but are super similar to lines that are). Seth Rogen and Dave Franco are good at this which won't surprise anyone but Rose Byrne is surprisingly game for this 'just keep the comic ball in the air and you don't need a punchline' style of modern comedy, too. Her rich bitch hilarity in Bridesmaids was no fluke.

Neighbords-dildoZac Efron may not have been created in a gay laboratory but sometimes it feels like the movie was. The movie has an endless supply of dick jokes, plentiful opportunities to gawk at Franco and Efron's bodies unclothed and an entire subplot about dildos molded from each, uh, member of the members of the frathouse. But even the jokes that might technically be labelled under the category 'homosexual panic' don't always land the way you expect them, too, like the dildo Efron shoves in Rogen's mouth (see the redband trailer below). My favorite subversion of what would be a totally homophobic joke just a short time ago belongs to = "Assjuice" (Craig Roberts as a new pledge) and his deadpan one-liner about an implied blowjob. Turns out it's more fun to be pandered to than laughed at so this new turn Hollywood's been talking with gayish humor is also an upgrade. 

It's fitting, then, that Abercrombie & Fitch gets the movies last and biggest product placement gag. Remember that annoying gurrl-puhleeze business they used to pull on their beefcake calendars with the subtitle "for women" (the 90s equivalent of shouting "No homo!"?). Neighbors is descended from that same tradition. It's the R rated Hollywood equivalent of hitting the "straight guys" tab on your gay male adult sites.

Not that you do that. 


Nathaniel Rogers would live in the movie theater but for the poor internet reception. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.


  1. Paul R says

    The first 30 seconds of that clip show what I assume is the crux of the opening scene. The rest just looks like a warmed over Animal House for the kids of today. Either way, it doesn’t seem especially clever or entertaining…I saw enough hot frat boys behaving badly in college to last me a lifetime!

    And I’m with you that Zac Efron is nothing special. He seems like he’d be unpleasant, a needy narcissist who likely realizes that his shelf life is limited. But I really don’t spend much time thinking about him!

  2. HumanHeatPump says

    “That’s the sexiest guy I’ve ever seen. It’s like something a gay guy would create in a laboratory.” – A person who makes a statement like that isn’t a gay person inundated with images of gorgeous gay men through blogs, tumblrs and the like. A person who says something like that hasn’t watched much gay porn either. Zac wouldn’t even make my top 40 hot guys, if I had a top 40

  3. woodroad34 says

    He’s very pretty, but on interviews he’s very low energy and tries too hard to be “straight” (have you watched him on Graham Norton? He looks so uncomfortable). I read some article where he had to ask Tom Cruise how he handled celebrity…why Tom Cruise? Is he another Scientologist in the making? Oddly, he seems to take his shirt off on command (which is nice of him, but odd).

  4. Mike says

    I agree that there is way too much celebrity news on Towleroad.

    That said, many of the reviews I’ve read about this film have said that it is, in fact, homophobic, and my favorite review said that this film “makes Animal House look like Remembrance of Things Past” (yes, I know we call it “In Search of Lost Time” now).

  5. Edgar Carpenter says

    Seth Rogan is much, much sexier than Zac Efron to a lot of us. Rogan makes my knees weak, but I rarely notice men who look like Efron, and certainly wouldn’t pursue him.

    Whenever you assume that your own tastes are shared by everyone (whatever they are), you are seriously wrong.

  6. TM in LBC says

    As for Zac Efron, I am impressed by any child star that doesn’t end up face down in their own sick. Kudos to him for working and staying out of jail. (I don’t actually know if his personal life is OK but as long as he isn’t scoring crack on skid row, he is winning.)

  7. Pitt90 says

    I have to confess to not finding Efron attractive *at all* when he was younger…it was too much like oggling an underage girl or something…but he’s getting hotter as he becomes more of a pretty man, with body hair…

    Just sayin’…

  8. Michael in Toronto says

    They keep forcing him on us, like they once did with Channing Tatum. Look how long it took for CT to find his niche. As for ZE, I really don’t think he has much to offer.

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