Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) are happily going about their business as first-time parents, obsessing over their young daughter. They’re just managing to keep it all in razor-sharp balance when they can’t help but notice that a local fraternity is moving in next door and disrupting their quiet suburban existence. Panic instantly sets in. What can they do? How can this be? Is there any way to make this work? They decide that the best approach is to try to bond with their new, naive neighbors and carefully explain their situation — a plan that’s doomed from the start. This will be a classic battle to the death, pitting youth and energy against perseverance and pride.
Director Nicholas Stoller has the chops for this type of material, having previously directed the hilarious and heartwarming comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Unfortunately, he’s also been at the helm of a few, shall we say, less successful projects. This one falls somewhere in between.
The plot is a near total loss. Very little of it reaches beyond the realm of illogical. Police officers immediately side with a fraternity, parents think it’s okay to bring an infant to a college party and a student never heard of AT&T. The characters are also fairly stale and one-dimensional. Rogen’s pot-loving dufus character was fun the first few films, but it’s time for something — anything — different. Byrne is better, although she and Rogen have absolutely no discernible chemistry. As for the head of the frat, it seems like the producers purposely hired Zac Efron‘s bare chest and only begrudgingly took the rest of him for lack of any other realistic option. The lesser characters and their subplots fare even worse. Christopher Mintz-Plasse (as one of the frat members) is entirely wasted. Of the complete cast, the best acting belongs to the always-adorable infant.
Its only saving grace is the comedy. It’s a funny film — but only inconsistently so. Much of it boils down to cheap toilet humor that grows moldy by the second half. Some of it, like an ill-conceived sight gag involving a sculpted hedge, doesn’t work at all. Thankfully, in the rare cases when it does connect, it’s downright hilarious.
I couldn’t help but think of the eccentrically witty 1981 John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd film of the same name. Surely, given all the basic similarities, the writers must have been at least casually aware of it. Had they bothered to actually watch it, I suspect we’d all be better off for the experience.