Director: Nicholas Stoller
A young couple (Rogen & Byrne) have sunk all of their money into a new property, moving into a neighbourhood beyond their means with their newborn daughter. Struggling to reconcile their pre-baby social lives with the demands of parenthood, they believe they haven’t grown up *that* much, but when a fraternity from the local college moves in next door it proves that they are not as tolerant (or hip) as they thought they were. Despite initially getting along with the leaders of the fraternity (Efron & Franco), the tides soon turn once their fuse burns low about the constant night-long partying next door and call the police. The fraternity are not impressed with their neighbours and all-out war is declared.
Could they have found anyone better to play the president of the fraternity than Efron? As Rogen described him early in the movie, “he looks like he was invented by gay men”. He is the archetypal athletic, charismatic and magnetic wise-guy, whose physique is as impressive as his dedication to partying. His outlook on the college lifestyle is one of hedonism, without any scope of balancing this with study. To give the film its dues, it does attempt to explore this character’s blinkered ignorance who forgets that to actually pass college he needs to work. The character is actually fleshed out a lot more than you’d expect, with the story shifting focus between sides, but by giving us the motivations from both sides of the picket fence, the story becomes a little watered down. I wanted to side wholly with the young couple, but found myself veering sometimes toward the frat house, because I remember vividly what it was like to be a student. For a comedy of this length and depth, Efron should perhaps have remained as much of a caricature as he is in the trailer, allowing us to hate him and his antisocial ways.
However. There is a lot to be said for actually being made to laugh out loud and there are a lot of guffaws to be had here. This is a film that leads you gently up Comedy Road without veering off in any unexpected directions and as a result is little more than just comedy fodder, but at least it’s funny fodder. Every year I look for what will be that one (and there is only ever one) comedy film of that year that stands out; I thought this might be it, but I was wrong.