justin perich neighborsNeighbors – As both a writer and director, Nicholas Stoller has proved himself capable of delivering highly enjoyable comedies which gently subvert expectations and tropes. In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Jason Segal’s Peter Bretter failed to win the Hawaiian girl back with the speech and had to return back to the mainland and get his life together before she’d consider taking him back. In The Five Year Engagement, the story begins where most movies end, the man proposing to the woman, and we get to see what happens when the butterflies fade and reality settles in. Neighbors has a similarly subtle uniqueness in its comedic approach to married life and generational struggles. The story finds Mac and Kelly Radner (played with heart and charm by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) living next door to a frat house in a college town, run by Teddy and Pete (Zac Efron and Dave Franco, respectively). What begins as a mutual respect between two “families” turns into all out war between the old and the young, the so-called mature and immature. This is a movie largely made by and for men, but writers Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien are to be commended for creating a major female character who is just as fun and complex as her male counterpart. Gone is the tired dumb dad and nagging wife routine–here Rogen and Byrne split the laughs and hijinks equally. While not as groundbreaking as the success of Bridesmaids a few years ago, the fact that male artists in showbiz are getting the hint and rising to the modest challenge of the Bechdel test is a good sign for the future of Hollywood. And on a basic level, Neighbors is just plain funny. 4/5 stars.